Coronavirus (COVID-19) - advice for people at high risk from coronavirus (shielding)

Government advice for those who are shielding changed from 6 July and will change again from 1 August.

Who needs to be shielding?

If you're at high risk (clinically extremely vulnerable) from coronavirus (COVID-19), there are extra steps you're advised to take to protect yourself.

These extra steps are called shielding.

This advice is for people who have received a letter from the NHS saying they're at high risk. If you're not sure whether you're at high risk, see who's at higher risk from coronavirus by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus  

From 1 August 2020, people in England who are at high risk from coronavirus will no longer be advised to shield and the government’s National Shielding Service will stop.

How to protect yourself if you're at high risk

There are a few steps that you can follow to protect yourself. 

You should:

  • stay at home as much as possible
  • try to stay 2 metres (3 steps) away from anyone you do not live with when outside your home
  • only meet other people outdoors, in groups of up to 6 – try to stay 2 metres away from each other at all times
  • wash your hands as soon as you get home
  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • get food and medicine delivered and left outside your door – ask friends and family to help or register to get coronavirus support on GOV.UK if you need it
  • prepare a hospital bag, including a list of the medicines you're taking, in case you need to go into hospital

You should not:

  •  have visitors inside your home, including friends and family, unless they're providing essential care
  • go into other people's homes – except to use the toilet or get to their garden
  • share or pass things to people you do not live with, including food and drinks
  • go into any other indoor places, such as shops*

* this guidance will be changing on 1 August - see section below

What changed from 6 July?

The government has made some changes to its guidance for people who are shielding because the transmission of COVID-19 in the community has gone down. 

The changes from 6 July are:

  • You no longer need to socially distance from people you live with.
  • If you want to, you can meet in a group of up to 6 people outdoors, including people from other households.
  • You may also form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household if you want to, but one of the households in the ‘support bubble’ should be a single adult household (either an adult living alone or with children under 18 only). You can all spend time together outside and inside each other’s homes, including overnight, without needing to socially distance.
  • The government support offer has been extended: you can still get a food box, care and/or medicine delivery until 31 July if you want them, and have registered before 17 July - do it online at www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable or call 0800 028 8327.

What will change from 1 August?

From 1 August, the government will pause shielding unless the transmission of COVID-19 in the community starts to rise significantly.

This means:

  • The government will no longer be advising you to shield and the support from the National Shielding Service of free food parcels, medicine deliveries and care will stop.
  • You will still be eligible for priority supermarket slots (if you have registered by 17 July).
  • You can go outside to buy food, to places of worship and for exercise – keeping 2 metres away wherever possible and in any case at least one metre with protective measures in place
  • You can go to work, as long as the workplace is COVID-secure – but carry on working from home if you can.
  • Our volunteers will carry on delivering the food you buy and prescriptions to you if you need it.  

We have produced a short guide which sets out the changes to the scheme which is available for download. 

Food support available after 1 August 

The government’s National Shielding Service will be ending from 1 August. We recommend that you start to consider how you can buy food and collect prescriptions from that point forward. 

Priority online shopping slots

If:

  • you have been relying on the free weekly government box of essential food and 
  • you are able to access the internet and 
  • you have the means to pay for shopping

please ensure that you have registered with the government for an online shopping slot by visiting www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable no later than Thursday 16 July and complete the shielding registration form. 

When you complete the form, make sure that you click ‘no’ to the question ‘Do you have a way of getting essential supplies delivered at the moment?’.  

You will then be granted access to online shopping slots and you will be contacted by the major supermarkets to arrange this. 

In order to use this service, you must have a credit or debit card to be able to pay for your food orders online.

This service will continue beyond 1 August if you register by the Thursday 16 July deadline. You can also register for this service by calling the government free on 0800 028 8327.

Accessing free food support from a foodbank 

If you cannot afford to pay for food and are worried about how you will obtain food after Friday 31 July, you will be able to access free food from a range of foodbanks located across the borough.  

There are a number of foodbanks operating in Bromley for those who need them.

Help from our volunteers

In partnership with Community Links Bromley, we have put in place a system to ensure you can access help using a volunteer, should you need it at any time.

We have 4,500 people in the community that are registered as Bromley volunteers and are standing by ready to help if you need it with tasks such as:

  • shopping (you must have the means to pay for the shopping)
  • collecting prescription medicines
  • dog walking or 
  • even just a friendly regular phone call to check you are ok

If you would like support from a volunteer, please register for assistance by completing our request assistance form. If you cannot register online, please call our assistance line on 020 8313 4484 and we will match you with a suitable local volunteer. This matching process only takes 1-2 days.

If you do not need support with food but would like a volunteer for any other reason, please do get in touch. Volunteer support is available for anyone feeling vulnerable or lonely.

Staying healthy and active

We have produced a short guide to provide a range of tips, advice and ideas for looking after your mental and physical health.

Download our guide to stay healthy and active.

COVID-19 assistance helpline

Week day office hours

Tel: 020 8313 4484