The Scottish Government has announced today that shielding is to be paused from 1 August.
Those affected will receive a letter from the Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith outlining updated guidance as well as the pause in shielding, which is possible due to the continuing low levels of Covid-19 infection in Scotland.
A series of measures will be established to support people moving from shielding status – advice for those with specific conditions has been made available, guidance will be issued to support people returning to work and to schools, and information will be published on how to do various day-to-day activities safely.
From 1 August, those who have been shielding will be asked to follow general safety guidance, as well as follow stringent physical distancing and hygiene measures.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:
“This will be a welcome and long-awaited announcement for around 180,000 people who have been shielding since the onset of the Covid-19 crisis – the implications of shielding have been enormous for every person affected, as well as their families and loved ones.
“We have reached the point where these restrictions can be eased, so that the advice for those shielding will be the same as the rest of the general public.
“Even though these changes will be welcome for some, I know many will also feel anxious and worried too.
“I want to reassure all those affected – there will be a range of guidance and information for all those moving on from shielding status, and those most at-risk will continue to receive support. I also expect employers to fully support those who are returning to work.
“We are keeping all the available evidence under review – and if there is a significant reason for a change in approach at a local or national level, we will adapt again, to keep those people most at risk in our society safe.”
It had already been announced that from 24th July, those who have been shielding can meet indoors with up to 8 people from 2 households, as long as physical distancing is observed.
They can also visit indoor shops, markets and pharmacies, museums, galleries, libraries and cinemas, and attend hairdressers and barbers.
They can also meet outdoors in groups of up to 15 people from a maximum of 4 households per day – an increase from up to 8 people from 2 households. They can also choose to go to pubs and restaurants with outdoor spaces, though it is advised that busy places are avoided.
Those shielding can now also use public transport, as well as taxis, as long as a face covering is worn, and children who live with someone shielding can now also attend formal childcare providers.
You can read the latest guidance on shielding online here https://www.gov.scot/covid-shielding/
Further shielding advice can be found on www.mygov.scot/shielding and on NHS Inform.
Questions about shielding support can be answered on the free national helpline number on 0800 111 4000.
Deliveries of weekly grocery boxes to people shielding will continue until the end of July for those already signed up. Priority access to supermarket delivery slots will also continue for those who have signed up before 31 July.
A SMS Shielding Service has been set up for the latest updates about shielding. People can join the SMS Shielding Service by sending a text from their mobile phones to 0786 006 4525.
Scottish Government is also developing a Covid-19 forecasting service for shielding. It will allow people who have been shielding to sign up to an SMS update that tells them about their risk of being exposed to Covid-19 in their local area.