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Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Government announces changes to lockdown restriction to those who are shielding

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The Government has announced a number of changes to lockdown restrictions which will soon affect those who are shielding.

In summary:

  • The advisory guidance is to be eased for 2.2 million clinically extremely vulnerable people across England, as virus infection rates continue to fall
  • From Monday 6 July, those shielding from coronavirus can gather in groups of up to 6 people outdoors and form a ‘support bubble’ with another household
  • The Government shielding support package will remain in place until the end of July when people will no longer be advised to shield
  • You can also call 01935 462462 to access our Wellbeing Hub which has so far sent out almost 1,000 packages of essential supplies to those who are shielding, facing financial hardship or in urgent need during the pandemic.

It comes as the latest scientific evidence shows the chances of encountering the virus in the community continue to decline, but the government is committed to continuing with its package of support until the end of July to give those shielding time to adjust to these changes.

From Saturday 1 August, the guidance will then be relaxed so clinically extremely vulnerable people will no longer be advised to shield, but support will remain available from NHS volunteers and councils in Somerset.

People will retain their priority for supermarket delivery slots, and still be able to access help with shopping, medication, phone calls and transport to medical appointments.

The updated guidance for those classed as clinically extremely vulnerable will be published on 6 July and 1 August as these measures come into force.

The dates allow for a gradual return to normality for people who have been shielding strictly and for careful monitoring of the epidemiology of disease during wider easing policies, with 2 to 3 weeks being required to observe clear changes in hospitalisation or intensive care use if population rates were to rise.

There are around 2.2 million people in England with underlying severe health conditions who have been advised to stay at home and avoid non-essential face-to-face contact. These are people of all ages – with specific medical conditions identified by senior UK clinicians – who are at greater risk of severe illness from coronavirus. (See the full list of conditions.)

READ MORE: See all of our advice with regard to Coronavirus

There are a number of ways that those who are identified as clinically extremely vulnerable can access food and other essentials:

  • Make use of the supermarket priority delivery slots that are available for this group. When a clinically extremely vulnerable person registers online as needing support with food, their data is shared with supermarkets. This means if they make an online order with a supermarket (as both a new or existing customer), they will be eligible for a priority slot. Registration for priority slots remains open until 17 July.
  • If a person meets the criteria to get support from the NHS Volunteer Responders programme, they can call 0808 196 3646 to be linked with a volunteer who can do a food shop for them. A carer or family member can also do this on their behalf
  • If they need urgent help and have no other means of support, they can contact 01935 462462 and see what support may be available from our Wellbeing Hub which offers essential supplies and other services. 
  • Use the many commercial options now available for accessing food, including telephone ordering, food box delivery, prepared meal delivery and other non-supermarket food delivery providers. A number of local businesses have signed up to be part of our Food and Drink directory, offering services during the pandemic.

You can also continue to access the Corona Helpers service which we are supporting and is offered by Spark Somerset - You can ask for help for a variety of things. This could include grocery shopping, collecting medication, help with loneliness or feeling anxious, walking the dog etc. but this is not a service for urgent needs.


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