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Updated Shielding Advice from 1 April


Shielding advice is being paused nationally from 31 March.

From 1 April, Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) individuals are no longer advised to shield but must continue to follow the rules in place for everyone under the current national restrictions.

The government has published ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021’, which sets out the roadmap out of the current lockdown in England. This explains how restrictions will be eased over time.

Although clinically extremely vulnerable people will no longer be advised to shield, it’s recommend 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. These are not rules but advice, so you can choose whether you wish to follow them or not. You can find the full guidance government guidance here.
 


Summary of advice that applies from 1 April 2021

Until the social distancing rules are eased more widely, it is important that you continue to keep the number of social interactions that you have low and try to reduce the amount of time you spend in settings where you are unable to maintain social distancing.
 

Work and school

Everyone is advised to continue to work from home where possible, but if you cannot work from home you should now attend your workplace. 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.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) has been extended until 30 September as has the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). You may continue to be eligible throughout this period. 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.

Clinically extremely vulnerable pupils and students should return to their school or other educational settings.
 

COVID-19 vaccinations

If you are aged 16 or older, you should already have been offered your first dose of the vaccine. If you have not yet received your first dose, 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 have received your first dose, you should still ensure you take up your second dose of the vaccine when it is offered to you. Having two doses should further increase your level of protection.

No vaccine is 100% effective and therefore even if you have had both doses, there is still no absolute guarantee that you will not become ill from COVID-19. Therefore, you should continue to take the extra precautions set out in this guidance to help protect yourself.
 

Going to shops and pharmacies

Supermarkets and other retailers are continuing to offer priority delivery slots for the clinically extremely vulnerable, as well as telephone ordering and food boxes to help the most vulnerable shop for themselves.

If you have already registered for priority access to supermarket delivery slots, supermarkets will continue to offer priority access until 21 June. If you have yet to register for support but are in need, please do so online at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-shielding-support  by 31 March.
 
Tameside Council has established an Emergency Support Line to help people who have NO family, friends or neighbours available to support them
 
Get in touch if you need help with: 
  • Shopping.
  • Collecting prescriptions.
  • Other basic essentials

Our Emergency Support line can be reached on 0161 342 8355 and is open Monday to Wednesday 8:30am – 5pm, Thursday 8:30am-4:30pm and Friday 8:30am-4pm.
 
Our staff will be happy to talk you through the support available and make arrangements to help you.

You can also contact the Greater Manchester textphone helpline service on 07860 022876.  Messages will be responded to by the next working day. 

The NHS Volunteer Responders Programme will continue providing support with food, prescriptions and essential items to those who are self-isolating for any reason. You can contact them by calling 0808 196 3646 or by going online here.
 

Access to health and care

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.

If you are concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on your health, speak to your GP, hospital clinician or use NHS111. Further information on accessing help and support can be found in the attached guidance.


Shielding FAQs


Why is shielding being paused? What is the evidence base for this decision?
 
  • The decision to pause shielding has been taken based upon the latest scientific data and on the recommendation of the Chief Medical Officer.
  • Since the national restrictions and shielding measures were introduced in January, cases of COVID-19 have fallen considerably across all parts of the country, Prevalence rates are now low enough that we can relax shielding advice.
  • In addition, the majority of CEV people have now received their first dose of the vaccine. Whilst no vaccine can be 100% effective, this means CEV people are in general better protected against the virus.

What is the guidance for people on the shielded patient’s list (SPL) post 31 March?
 
  • CEV people are no longer advised to shield from 1 April 2021.
  • They should still work from home if they can, but if that is not possible, they can return to the workplace.
  • CEV people are advised that if they do go out to the shops or pharmacy, they consider going at quieter times of the day.
  • Children on the SPL are advised they should return to school or college.
  • People on the SPL should continue to take extra precautions set out in the guidance. This is set out in the letter we are issuing to people on the SPL, and from 1 April will also be available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19  
 
If CEVs have received their vaccine, do they still need to follow CEV guidance after 31 March?
 
  • Yes. Even if a CEV individual has had both doses of a vaccine, there is still no guarantee that they will not become ill from COVID-19 if they catch the virus. Therefore, they should continue to follow the extra precautions set out by the Government, to help reduce their likelihood of infection.
  • The guidance to CEV people is only advisory. It is not mandatory that they follow this advice, although they should be aware that not doing so may increase their risk of catching COVID-19.
  • Everyone must continue to follow the regulations in place at each stage of the roadmap.
 
Can CEV people go back to work if they cannot work from home?
 
  • Everyone is currently advised to work from home where possible. If individuals cannot work from home, they can still go to work.
  • Employers are required to take steps to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace and should be able to explain to the measures they have put in place to keep people safe at work. We encourage CEV employees and their employers to have conversations as early as possible about their return to work,
  • Where employers are not managing the risk of COVID-19, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authorities will take action which can range from the provision of specific advice, issuing enforcement notices, stopping certain work practices until they are made safe and, where businesses fail to comply with enforcement notices, this could lead to prosecution.

How should employers be supporting CEV people to come back to work?
 
  • Employers are required to take steps to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace and should be able to explain the measures they have put in place to keep people safe at work.
  • Workplace specific safer working guides set out how different workplaces should be made COVID-secure, including how to maintain social distancing and a system of risk management in the workplace: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19
  • The Health and Safety Executive also provides information to employers on making workplaces COVID-secure and on protecting vulnerable workers: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/protect-people.htm
  • The Government is asking employers to work with us to ease the transition back to a more normal way of life for their CEV employees. It is important that this group continue to take careful precautions, and employers should do all they can to enable them to work from home where this is possible, including moving them to another role if required.
  • Where working from home is not possible, those who have been shielding should be provided with the safest onsite roles that enable them to maintain social distancing from others.
  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) has been extended until 30 September and CEV people remain eligible for this even whilst shielding guidance is not in place.
  • We encourage CEV employees and their employers to have conversations as early as possible about their return to work, and on how best to support them to manage their risk and work safely. The Health and Safety Executive has published resources to support employers in having conversations about preventing the spread of coronavirus in the workplace with their employees: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/talking-to-your-workers/index.htm . This includes specific information and guidance for employers on stress, wellbeing and providing mental health support.

Do CEVs have to go back to work even if they don’t feel safe to? What are their rights?
 
  • Employers are required to take steps to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace and should be able to explain the measures they have put in place to keep people safe at work.
  • If CEVs have concerns about their health and safety at work they can raise them with their workplace union, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) https://web.archive.org/web/20201018050420/https:/www.hse.gov.uk/contact/concerns.htm or their local council.
  • Where some employers are not managing the risk of coronavirus, HSE and local authorities will take action which can range from the provision of specific advice, issuing enforcement notices, stopping certain work practices until they are made safe and, where businesses fail to comply with enforcement notices, this could lead to prosecution.
  • The existing employment rights framework also provides protections against discrimination, unfair dismissal and detriment. Further information for employers and workers on work absences due to coronavirus (COVID-19) can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/if-you-need-to-self-isolate-or-cannot-attend-work-due-to-coronavirus
  • The Citizens Advice Bureau also has information about workers’ rights and how to solve problems in the workplace: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/
  • Employees can get advice on their specific situation and their employment rights by visiting the Acas website https://www.acas.org.uk/contact or calling the Acas helpline on 0300 123 1100.

What about if CEVs are concerned about their risk during their journey to work (e.g. they have to use public transport)?
 
  • The Department for Transport (DfT) has worked with the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), Public Health England (PHE) and the Department for Business Enterprise and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to develop Safer Guidance for Transport Operators in order to protect transport workers and passengers: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-transport-guidance-for-operators/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-transport-guidance-for-operators#social-contact
  • Operators are also ensuring they implement the Safe Workplace guidance. These actions ensure that operators are keeping their workers and passengers safe.
  • DfT has also consulted industry stakeholders and trade unions throughout the pandemic in order to ensure best practice approaches are followed and the transport sector operates safely.
  • Since the start of the pandemic we have encouraged the public to follow mitigations, introducing requirements for mandatory face coverings on all public transport
  • DfT has also provided emergency support to public transport operators to ensure the continuity of essential services during pandemic. This has included express provision for measures to protect transport workers and the public including PPE, passenger spacing, screens, barriers, additional cleaning services.

What financial/employment support is available for CEVs at this time?
   
Can CEV children and young adults go back to school/college/university now that shielding has been paused?
 
  • From 1 April clinically extremely vulnerable pupils and students should return to their school or other educational setting now that shielding has been paused.
  • Higher education students who are on practical or practice-based courses began to attend from 8 March, as well as those who were on specific courses who returned in January.
 
Do children of CEV adults or CEV adults themselves need to attend school?
 
  • It is important that children attend school for their education, well-being, mental health and long-term development. School attendance is mandatory and the advice for children who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable or clinically vulnerable is clear that they should attend school. This advice is informed by the latest medical evidence and has been agreed with the Deputy Chief Medical Officer.
  • We have asked schools to continue to implement a range of protective measures to ensure they are as safe as possible. Regular testing of children in schools will further reduce the risk of transmission. Most CEV adults will also now have had at least one dose of the vaccine.
  • Where parents are anxious about their child's attendance, they should speak to their child's school about their concerns and discuss the protective measures that have been put in place to reduce the risk. They should also discuss other measures that can be put in place to ensure that their children can regularly attend school.
  • In schools, the usual attendance rules continue to apply, including a headteacher's ability to grant a leave of absence in exceptional circumstances.

Higher education and FE students have been able to attend education settings from 8 March, as have those who were on specific courses who returned in January.
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