Greater Manchester residents with certain health conditions are expected to be told to begin shielding again as the region is placed under Tier 4 restrictions.
The government updated its advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people when it introduced the toughest new level of measures earlier this month.
Tier 4 rules originally applied only to London and parts of the south east, but now include the 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester and many other parts of the country after a review today (Wednesday).
Under the latest guidance, people who are particularly vulnerable to the risks of coronavirus and live in a Tier 4 area are being advised to stay at home at all times.
That means not going to work, unless it is possible to work from home, and avoiding shops and supermarkets.
According to the guidance: “The government will only reintroduce formal shielding advice in the very worst affected local areas and for a limited period of time.”
What do people do if they have been asked to shield?
People are being encouraged to work from home if at all possible.
Clinically extremely vulnerable people should not go to work if they cannot work from home and they live or work in a Tier 4 area.
You may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA), or your employer may be able to furlough you under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until the end of April 2021.
Members of the household who are not clinically extremely vulnerable can continue to attend work if they are unable to work from home.
Clinically extremely vulnerable children should not attend school if they live or go to school in a Tier 4 area.
Children and young people whose parents or carers are clinically extremely vulnerable can continue to go to school, according to the guidance.
If you are shielding, you are advised to stay at home as much as possible.
You can still go outside, but you should try to keep all contact with others outside of your household to a minimum, and avoid busy areas.
People who are shielding are also advised to avoid shops and supermarkets and either shop online instead or ask someone else to do your shopping for you.
You can register to request access to priority supermarket deliveries, if you do not have someone you can rely on to go shopping for you.
Those shielding are also advised to avoid pharmacies. If there is nobody who can pick up prescriptions for you, contact your pharmacy to inform them that you are clinically extremely vulnerable and need your medicines delivered, and they will arrange this free of charge.
You can still be part of a support bubble, but you cannot meet with friends and family you do not live with unless they are part of your support bubble.
Who is classed as clinically extremely vulnerable?
People who are defined as clinically extremely vulnerable are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.
Clinically extremely vulnerable people include the following:
How do you know if you have to shield?
In areas previously covered by Tier 4 restrictions such as London, GPs have contacted patients to let them know if they are on the Shielded Patient List.
According to the NHS website, if you’re at high risk from coronavirus and live in a Tier 4 area, you’ll be sent a letter about what to do while Tier 4 restrictions are in place. You might also be sent an email.
If you have this letter or email you do not need a shielding note, as it can be used to claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
Anyone who thinks there is a good clinical reason they should be added to the Shielded Patient List is advised to discuss their concerns with their GP or hospital clinician.
People with more general underlying health conditions and those aged 70 or over are advised to stay at home as much as possible, but do not need to shield.
You can find the full guidance for people who are shielding in Tier 4 areas on the Government website.