SHIELDING restrictions will still be lifted tomorrow for hundreds of vulnerable people despite coronavirus infections rising across the country.
The current government advice is that people who are in the clinically extremely vulnerable category are able to meet outdoors in groups of up to six people.
This includes people from different households – but social distancing must be adhered to.
Those in this category are also able to form a support bubble with one other household, as long as one of them lives alone, or with dependent children under 18.
This means they can stay overnight with that person and that they do not have to socially distance.
Shielding has been paused today in Scotland, tomorrow in England and will be paused on August 16 in Wales.
The plans to end shielding had been announced earlier this month.
Speaking at a press conference this afternoon Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “plans for shielding remain in place”.
He did however claim that “medical experts” would explain why this decision was being made, and further information is expected to be published from the government.
The government says restrictions will be eased slightly in order to bring “those affected a step nearer others in their communities”.
This means that individuals that had been shielding will be able to go to work.
It also means that children in this category will be able to return to school and other educational settings alongside their peers.
Where possible children should still adhere to strict hand hygiene.
The government states that strict social distancing should be adhered to.
“Strict social distancing means you may wish to go out to more places and see more people but you should take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household or support bubble.”
It comes after it was today announced the the R rate in the UK is continuing to creep up.
The PM said there were around 3,000 daily cases in the week of July 14, compared to 4,900 now.
Meanwhile new ONS stats, published today, show that there were around 0.78 new Covid infections for every 10,000 people.
Charities have cautioned the move to continue with the relaxation of shielding plans and said that many people are planning to continue to shield despite the government’s advice.
Data from Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation revealed that of nearly 4,000 people shielding in England, 42 per cent plan to continue shielding after the 1 August and 40 per cent are undecided.
Emma Rubach head of health advice at Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation said: “We know that shielding has taken a huge toll on people’s lives and for many there will be a massive adjustment once shielding has been paused.
“To go from staying at home for months to returning to life as normal, is a huge shift.
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“We are also concerned about the many people who feel they have to remain at home indefinitely, vulnerable people who will be cut off from others and support, and risk being forgotten.”
Meanwhile 15 charities have written to the government’s chancellor Rishi Sunak warning that workers are being faced with impossible choices.
Charities such as Diabetes UK, Age UK and Macmillan Cancer Support all signed the letter.
It read: “Our concern is that, especially as [the] furlough arrangements start to unwind and the shielding scheme is paused from next week, some of these workers will find themselves in an impossible position.”