The policy of ‘shielding’ the elderly and vulnerable, by advising them to stay at home and have no contact with the outside world has been a hallmark of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, and for families up and down the country, one of the most difficult to deal with. However, with the prevalence of the disease in the community at a low level, the government has decided it is time to end shielding. But what does the end of shielding mean for your family?
When does shielding end?
Shielding will end this Saturday, 1st August. From this date elderly and vulnerable people will be able to meet with others outside, visit shops and parks, and do all other activities currently permitted.
What will change after shielding?
Aside from being able to do more and leave the house, the end of shielding also means the end of the National Shielding Service delivery of free food parcels, medicine and care, however NHS volunteers will carry on delivering food you buy, medicine and other essentials if you still want to stay at home. Priority supermarket slots will continue.
What does the end of shielding mean for my family?
The end of shielding across the UK means that for many families that have struggled with separation from elderly or vulnerable relatives they will be able to visit one another, or visit restaurants, bars and parks together, whilst observing social distancing.
However, it is important to remember that coronavirus is still circulating in the community, and that those who were previously shielding are no less vulnerable to the disease than before, although treatment methods have improved.
The only way to know for sure if you might be carrying coronavirus is to get an antigen test before visiting relatives. Although this Saturday may well be a day of celebration for many families, it is still advisable to exercise caution and take great care when reuniting with vulnerable people.