Last week the government announced an update to the shielding advice for vulnerable people across the UK. People with disabilities or long-term health conditions account for two-thirds of deaths from the virus. There is an urgent need for robust support and protections for those most at risk.
Summary of the update
Earlier this year, 2.2 million people were advised to remain at home to protect themselves against the infection with Covid-19. The government now recommends that vulnerable people continue with their everyday lives, but follow regulations at one step beyond their local area’s current three-tier standing. This refers to taking extra precautions alongside the guidance in your local area.
The government may reintroduce formal shielding advice in highly affected local areas but only for a limited period. Active shielding advice will only apply following a specific order from the Chief Medical Officer. Unless in receipt of a formal shielding notification, the government encourages vulnerable individuals to refer to the local COVID alert levels in their area.
The full list of disabilities and health conditions that pose a significant clinical risk can be viewed on the government website. Despite calls from disability groups that the conditions listed are not comprehensive enough, it has remained unchanged.
Disability rights groups across the UK have heavily criticised this new shielding advice. The new guidance does not provide any means of support to those shielding, such as food parcels or medicine deliveries. With the virus spreading in the UK at similar levels to March, the government’s relaxed approach to shielding is causing significant worry.
Advice for shielders who are working
For shielders who are working, the government is again advising to work from home wherever possible. Those who reside in high-risk areas should seek alternative safer roles at their workplace. However, where this is not possible, the advice states that shielders “can still go to work”. The government insists the blanket shielding guidance seen at the beginning of the lockdown in March caused harm. This new approach will see more flexibility, giving vulnerable people across the UK more room to make their own choices.
Not all employers are aware of how they can make adequate provisions to protect their disabled workers. If you require advice to help accommodate at-risk disabled workers in your business, take the time to explore our pages on to learn about the types of funding available.
For disabled people concerned about how the resurgence of the virus in the UK may affect their employment, Careers with Disabilities have guidance to help you understand your rights. For disabled jobseekers, our website is full of up-to-date support and information on all aspects of employability for disabled people.
The full shielding guidance can be found on the government website.