Shielding in England will end in August - here's how the rules will change for vulnerable people

Shielding will be completely dropped in England from 1 August (Photo: Shutterstock)Shielding will be completely dropped in England from 1 August (Photo: Shutterstock)
Shielding will be completely dropped in England from 1 August (Photo: Shutterstock)

An estimated 2.2 million vulnerable people in England will no longer have to shield from coronavirus from 1 August.

Those with conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to coronavirus - including respiratory conditions and organ transplant recipients - have been shielding in their homes for several months as a precautionary measure.

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However, with infection rates falling in England, measures to protect vulnerable people will be relaxed from July onwards, with shielding to end completely in August.

The timeline

From 6 July, those who are shielding alone, or single parents who have been shielding, will be permitted to form a "support bubble" with a household of any other size. This means that couples and families living apart can reunite - so long as one party lives alone.

Those who have been shielding will also be permitted to meet in groups of up to six outdoors, so long as social distancing is being observed.

From 1 August, rules will be relaxed even further, with vulnerable people no longer required to shield. This means that vulnerable people can return to their place of work, provided their workplace is coronavirus-secure.

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They will still have to follow social distancing while outside their homes, and wash their hands regularly to reduce the risk of contracting the virus.

Will anything else change?

Unless they or someone in their household develops coronavirus symptoms, vulnerable people will no longer be eligible for statutory sick pay.

They'll still be able to access priority slots for online shopping and assistance with medicine deliveries and doctor's or hospital appointments.

Free essential boxes will no longer be delivered to vulnerable people, but they will be able to access support from local councils and NHS volunteers locally.

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The NHS will be keeping their list of shielded people, in case further advice needs to be given to this group in the future.

Differences around the UK

The new advice follows on from Northern Ireland announcing that shielding will be dropped from 31 July, if infections continue to fall.

The current shielding guidance in Wales runs until at least 16 August, while in Scotland shielding will be in place until at least 31 July.