Vulnerable people in parts of England could be sent back into quarantine under ‘local shielding’ if regional coronavirus spikes emerge, Matt Hancock has revealed.
The Health Secretary said the government would have the capacity to recognise a flare up in the coronavirus on a town-by-town basis, and re-instigate shielding at a local level after it is ‘paused’ on August 1.
Asked by the Mirror if this was possible at the daily Downing Street briefing, Mr Hancock said: “We will have the ability to do that, and we would consider that as part of a local lockdown if that is what was clinically advised.”
Shielding rules in England will be relaxed from Monday, 6 July – when those who are ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’ will be able to leave their homes and meet friends and family outdoors.
They’ll also be able to form ‘bubbles’ with one other household from the same date.
And the strict shielding instructions, which have seen 2.2 million people across the country told to stay in their homes in the majority of situations – with food and medicine delivered to them – will be paused from Saturday, 1 August.
Mr Hancock said: “I use the word ‘pause’ very deliberately because the (shielding) list will continue and should the clinical advice be that we need to bring it back in, then that is what we will do.”
He added: “I want to say a huge thank you to those who have shielded, all those who have looked after them and to each and every one of you who have played your part to bring this virus under control.”
In a message to employers, he said: “Please, work with us to ease the transition back to a more normal way of life for shielding employees.
“We expect you to do the right thing.”
The Cabinet minister said NHS volunteer food and medical deliveries would continue to reach those shielding until the end of July.