UK Government Guidelines for those who were Shielding from COVID-19

As the UK gradually emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic by relaxing restrictions to our daily lives it is worth reviewing what the advice is for people who were asked to shield from COVID-19 back in 2020.

Shielding entailed locking yourself away from all direct contact with other people to aim to prevent them from infecting you with COVID-19. This was an extreme measure intended to be short-term and proved to be effective in slowing down the rate of infection, spreading each wave of the pandemic in the UK.

By the end of 2020, there were effective vaccines starting to become available to provide protection and shielding became less important as they were rolled out. By the end of 2021 we also had effective treatments for COVID-19 to provide an extra layer of protection.

In December 2021 the UK government had ended shielding so as to end any threat of damage it may be causing to the mental health of vulnerable people. This guidance did not end all forms of protection, just those that were most isolating. It suggested the following as ways to mitigate and reduce any remaining risk of infection:

You should continue to follow the same guidelines as the general public on staying safe and preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, as someone with a health condition, you may want to consider, alongside any advice from your clinician, if additional precautions are right for you. These could include:

  • considering whether you and those you are meeting have been vaccinated – you might want to wait until 14 days after everyone’s most recent dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before being in close contact with others
  • Considering continuing to practice social distancing if that feels right for you and your friends
  • asking friends and family to take a rapid lateral flow antigen test before visiting you
  • asking home visitors to wear face coverings
  • avoiding enclosed crowded spaces

Full guidance for people previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19


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