COVID alert levels, guidance and implications for shielders

This information is dated the 2nd December 2020.

As you are all aware the number of cases of COVID-19 is rising every day.  This has important implications for the primary and secondary immunodeficiency community as you and your families make decisions about how to best to manage
risk in going about your daily life as a vulnerable group.  Each of the four nations are implementing different levels of restrictions and, even, within those geographical areas there are regional variations so the situation and messaging
of the 'rules' and guidance can be confusing and can change quite quickly.  Our advice to you is that 'knowledge is power' so please do keep up to date with what is happening in your area regarding local restrictions to inform your decision making. 

This website gives an overview of the situation in the four home nations and these website links will also help you keep up to date:

Northern Ireland

General advice

  • Continue strict social distancing, washing hands regularly and avoid touching your face.
  • Keep the number of social interactions that you have low.
  • If, in your local area you are allowed to meet other people outside your household (support bubbles etc), then meeting outside is better than meeting inside. Observe strict social distancing in all settings. 
  • Reduce the amount of time you spend in any environment where you, or others, are unable to maintain social distancing. 
  • Consider shopping, collecting medicines etc at quieter times of day.

The new tier system in England and what it means

With the rising number of COVID cases the Government in England has set out three tiers of alert.

Tier 1 - Medium risk COVID alert
Tier 2 - High risk COVID alert
Tier 3 - Very high risk COVID alert

It is important that you keep yourself informed of the latest COVID alert level for your area and the rules that apply. You can find this out by entering your postcode at this link or find by using this webpage.

Updated guidance for people who have been previously shielding in England

If you are in this group, you will previously have received a letter from the NHS or from your GP telling you this. You may have been advised to shield in the past.

What this means for you

1.    The Government has updated its guidance for extremely vulnerable groups. The Government is not advising shielding measures currently. This may change. 
2.    Overall, the Government's latest advice is less restrictive than the previous shielding advice to help maintain mental well-being. For example, you are now advised to go out for daily exercise.
3.    The advice for previous shielders is different depending on the tier level in your area. That is why it is important to check what the local COVID situation is and for you to follow the Government's advice.
4.    If formal and more restrictive shielding is introduced in the worst affected very high alert areas, the Government will write to you setting out how you can access support, for example, with food, medicines and care.  You are only advised to follow shielding advice if you receive a new written shielding notification but many people will be making their own decisions about this. 

You can download our useful infograph of the actions you need to take at each alert level and also a copy of our comprehensive guidance here.

Posted 16th October 2020; updated 2nd December 2020.