Advice for people who are shielding is to change in the coming month.
Those affected will receive a letter from the Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith outlining new guidelines and the work to be done to move to pausing shielding from 01 August as long as the evidence is clear that it is safe to do so.
From 10 July, those shielding will no longer need to physically distance from people they live with.
From that date, they can meet in groups of up to eight people outdoors from two other households in a single day, as long as strict hand hygiene and physical distancing advice is followed.
Those who have been advised to shield will also be able to travel further than 5 miles from their house, book places to stay, such as self-catering accommodation without shared facilities, and use toilets in other people’s houses if they are meeting them outdoors.
Those currently shielding can also form an ‘extended household group’ with one other household – this means that the shielding group can visit one other household indoors and stay overnight without physical distancing.
The decision on whether infection levels are low enough to allow shielding to be paused from 1 August will be announced before the end of July.
Further advice on going back to work, and whether children who are shielding can return to school, will also be issued before the end of the month.
Kenneth Gibson MSP commented:
“I am delighted that it is now deemed safe enough for those who have been shielding to get closer to those they live with and meet with friends and family as of this weekend, taking all the necessary precautions of course.
“I know that the past few months have been especially difficult for those who have had to shield, as not being able to go outside for regular exercise and fresh air can exacerbate a sense of loneliness and isolation.
“However, I cannot stress enough how important it is for others to behave even more carefully now that those who have been shielding will be out socialising once again. Please continue to practise physical distancing to help keep others safe. People continue to be infected with the coronavirus and we can’t allow those who are most susceptible to be put at risk."
You can read the latest guidance on shielding online here.
Further shielding advice is at:
Questions about shielding support can be answered on the free national helpline number 0800 111 4000.
Deliveries of weekly grocery boxes to people shielding will continue until the end of July.
A SMS Shielding Service has been set up for the latest updates about shielding. People can join by sending a text from their mobile phones to 0786 006 4525.