May 11th 2020: UK Government updated advice for vulnerable people during the COVID-19 epidemic
By GAtherton

General population

Now that an overwhelming peak of COVID-19 cases has been avoided in the UK, at least for the time being UK government has advised the UK general population that:

  • People and employers should stay safe in public spaces and workplaces by following “Covid-19 secure” guidelines. This should enable more people to go back to work, where they cannot work from home, and encourage more vulnerable children and the children of critical workers to go to school or childcare as already permitted
  • You should stay safe when you leave home: washing your hands regularly, maintaining social distancing, and ensuring you do not gather in groups of more than two, except with members of your household or for other specific exceptions set out in law
  • You must continue to stay home except for a limited set of reasons but – in line with scientific advice – can take part in more outdoor activities from Wednesday 13 May

See the full document for details

A large group of people, assessed as particularly vulnerable must take further action and observe the following additional guidelines:

There are two classes of people referred to as vulnerable. These are the ‘vulnerable’ and the ‘highly vulnerable’. There are new instructions for both groups (HM Gov update 11th May 2020)

Vulnerable people

Clinically vulnerable people are those who are:

  • aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
  • under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (that is, anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):
  • chronic (long-term) mild to moderate respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
  • chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
  • chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or cerebral palsy
  • diabetes
  • a weakened immune system as the result of certain conditions, treatments like chemotherapy, or medicines such as steroid tablets
  • being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
  • pregnant women

In addition, there may be people who do not fit in any of the categories listed above, but who have been advised that they are clinically vulnerable by their GP or other health professional.

All people who fall into this category must stay at home as much as possible, and take particular care to avoid contact with others outside of their household if they go out.


Highly vulnerable people

This is the group who have received a ‘Shielding letter’ or other instruction from a medical authority such as their GP. Their updated instructions do not seem to have been substantially changed and can be found here. This group of people need to stay at home, do not go out, keep shielding. The Government is currently advising people to shield until the end of June and is regularly monitoring this position.


What you can and can’t do


Does easing restrictions apply to healthy 70 year olds and over? (see section 2)

How long will shielding be in place? (see section 2.2)

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