Shielding measures to be relaxed in coming weeks

By Gareth Jones, Newgate Public Affairs

Today, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries announced new advice for vulnerable people who are shielding in England.

Hancock set out the latest statistics on new infections, hospital admissions and reported deaths, declaring that all the figures are coming down and pointing in the right direction. He stated that yesterday 15 more deaths were reported, which is the lowest figure since 15th March. He added that the virus is “in retreat” in the UK, with the number of infections falling from 1 in 400, at its peak, to now 1 in 1,700. Hancock said that the Prime Minister is to announce next steps in easing the lockdown restrictions tomorrow (widely expected to concern the changes to the two-metre rule). Today, however, the Health Secretary wanted to focus on those currently shielding – impacting 2.2 million people in England. 

Jenny Harries stated that now community transmission of the virus is down, the shielding measures can begin to be relaxed. From 6th July, the government will advise that people who are shielding may want to start meeting in groups of up to six people outdoors and from 1st August, England will “pause shielding”, meaning people can go out to places and see others (for example, go to shops) and can also return to work as long as their business is Covid safe. She added that should the government need to step up the shielding programme again, it can be much more specific about risk and provide more tailored advice to vulnerable people. 

Hancock added that he will write to all those in the shielded group to update them and current online guidance will also be updated. He also says that seven supermarkets have agreed to give the shielded priority delivery slots while urging employers to be sympathetic to their needs to help them return to work.