Last Updated 5:43pm, 31 March 2021
Shielding advice for the clinically extremely vulnerable to stop from April
More than 38,500 clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) people in Devon have been informed by the government that they are no longer advised to shield from Thursday 1 April 2021 as coronavirus infection rates continue to fall.
In line with the government’s COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021 roadmap published last month, those on the shielded patient list can begin to follow the national restrictions alongside the rest of the population, but are still advised to take extra precautions to keep themselves safe from coronavirus.
Letters with updated guidance are being sent out to all those affected. These set out practical steps people can follow to reduce their risk of catching the virus, including continuing to maintain strict social distancing and to keep their overall social contacts at low levels, such as working from home where possible.
The move follows the steady decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations across the country for the last couple of weeks.
With the success of the UK’s COVID-19 vaccination programme, more than 9 in 10 clinically extremely vulnerable people are now vaccinated with their first dose, but it’s still important that people continue to follow the national rules and take the additional precautions set out in the guidance to keep themselves as protected as possible.
What to do now if you're identified as being CEV
If you have been identified as being clinically extremely vulnerable, the government is issuing further advice and guidance for you as lockdown restrictions start to be lifted.
Remember, being identified as being clinically extremely vulnerable does not make you more likely to catch coronavirus. It means though that you are more likely to be more seriously affected by it, were you to catch it. For that reason, it’s really important that you follow the guidance set out for you.
Although clinically extremely vulnerable people will no longer be advised to shield, it’s still recommended that you take extra precautions to protect yourself while the virus is still spreading in our communities. The updated guidance provides practical steps that cover things like socialising, travel and going to work and school
In addition to this advice, you must continue to follow the regulations that are in place for everyone during the pandemic. This includes rules on mixing with people from other households.
If you’re aged 16 or older, you should already have been offered your first dose of the vaccine – if not please contact your GP.
For children aged 12 to 15 years, vaccination may be appropriate for those with severe neuro-disabilities. This option should be discussed between parents/guardians and the child’s clinician or GP. For other children aged 15 and under, whilst further research is being done, vaccination is not yet recommended.
If you’ve had your first jab, you should still make sure you take up your second one when it’s offered to you. Having two doses should further increase your level of protection.
No vaccine is 100% effective so even if you have had both doses, there is still no absolute guarantee that you will not become ill from COVID-19. You should continue to take the extra precautions set out in this guidance to help protect yourself.
Accessing health services
Please remember that the NHS is open, and we urge you to continue to access all the NHS services that you need. It is likely to be safer for you to use the NHS than to try to manage alone.
You can access a range of NHS services from home, including ordering repeat prescriptions or contacting your health professional through an online consultation. To find out more visit Health at Home or download the NHS App. If you have an urgent medical need, call NHS 111, or for a medical emergency dial 999.
Any carers or visitors who support you with your everyday needs can continue to visit. They should follow social distancing guidance where close or personal contact is not required.
Shopping and additional support
Where possible it is still advisable to use online shopping if you can or ask others to collect and deliver shopping for you. If you have already registered for priority access to supermarket delivery slots, supermarkets will continue to offer priority access until 21 June.
The NHS Volunteer Responders programme is available to help support those who need it. Their volunteers can collect and deliver shopping, medication and other essential supplies. Call 0808 196 3646 between 8am and 8pm, 7 days a week to self-refer or visit their website for further information.
In Devon, we also have a wide range of local charities and organisations who can help with shopping and medicines collection. To find a local charity or organisation near you, visit Pinpoint Devon.
Your local District Council can help signpost you to support that is available locally. Their telephone numbers are:
East Devon District Council – Phone: 01395 571500
Exeter City Council – Phone: 01392 265000
Mid Devon District Council – Phone: 01884 234387
North Devon Council – Phone: 01271 388280
South Hams District Council – Phone: 01803 861297
Teignbridge District Council – Phone: 01626 215512
Torridge District Council – Phone: 01237 428700
West Devon Borough Council – Phone: 01822 813683
Where possible everyone should continue to work from home.
If you cannot work from home, you should go to work. Your employer is required to take steps to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace and should be able to explain to you the measures they have put in place to keep you safe at work. Some employers may introduce regular testing of employees as part of these measures. You may also want to consider how you get to and from work, for example, if it is possible to avoid using public transport during rush hour.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) has been extended until 30 September. You may continue to be eligible throughout this period, even when shielding is paused, providing your employer agrees. The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has also been extended until 30 September.
From 1 April you will no longer be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) on the basis of being advised to shield.
If you need to use public transport, you must wear a face covering unless you are exempt. Consider travelling outside peak hours to reduce the number of people you come into contact with.
If you need to travel, walk or cycle if you can. For longer journeys, or if you can’t walk or cycle, try to minimise the number of people you come into close contact with.
Please do not car share with people from outside your household or support bubble and ensure you use a face covering when using taxis.
Socialising inside and outside the home
Continue to minimise the number of people that you come into contact with. The fewer social interactions you have, the lower your risk of catching COVID-19.
When the rules allow you to meet with others from outside of your household, your risk of catching COVID-19 is lower if you meet them outdoors.
Try to reduce the amount of time you spend in places where you can’t maintain social distancing, or where other people’s activities may reduce the likelihood of individuals maintaining social distancing.
Continue to maintain social distancing, wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face.
When you are allowed to meet others indoors, keep the area well ventilated with fresh air, for example by opening the window. Please see the COVID-19: ventilation of indoor spaces guidance for more information.
Try to reduce the amount of time you spend in settings where you are unable to maintain social distancing, or where other people’s activities may reduce the likelihood of individuals maintaining social distancing.