Renfrewshire Council

Last reviewed: 16.20, 3 Aug 2020

Shielding and protecting the vulnerable

Guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19. Local Assistance Helpline: 0300 300 0230 open Mon - Fri from 8.45am - 5pm.

Shielding Update - Pause on shielding from 1 August now confirmed

The Scottish Government has confirmed that advice for people who are shielding is set to change.

The Chief Medical Officer, Dr Gregor Smith, will be sending letters to this group outlining the new guidelines.

From 1 August, the Scottish Government are advising those who have been shielding that they currently no longer need to do so.

This means that in general, people who have been shielding can now follow the same advice as everyone else in Scotland. However, this group are being asked to continue being especially careful about hand hygiene and physical distancing.

It has also been confirmed that children who have been shielding can return to school in August and adults can begin returning to work (although home working should continue where possible).

From 1 August, those who have been shielding can:

  • Meet indoors with up to 8 people from 2 other households with physical distancing
  • Meet outdoors with up to 15 people from 4 other households outdoors with physical distancing
  • Go inside pubs and restaurants
  • Attend places of worship for congregational services, communal prayer and contemplation
  • Return to work or school
  • Return to university of college as part of the phased return to campus
  • Use formal childcare providers - this now includes children who have been shielding

This is in addition to previous relaxation to shielding guidance on:

  • Stopping physically distancing from the people you live with or who are in your extended household group
  • Using toilets in other people's homes and allowing other people to use yours at home
  • Use public transport wearing a face covering unless you are exempt
  • Travelling further than 5 miles from home, as far as you want
  • Booking all types of holiday accommodation or travelling to a second home - and staying over with people outwith your household
  • Going inside shops and leisure venues wearing a face covering unless you are exempt
  • Visiting outdoor public gardens

You should continue to follow the latest guidance on shielding.

Questions about shielding support can be answered on the free national helpline number on 0800 111 4000


Who does this apply to?

This advice applies to most people who have been shieling including children and young people.

It does not apply to anyone living in a residential care or nursing home. Care homes should follow the guidance for care home settings.

For some people who have been shielding, their individual circumstances mean the latest advice may not apply. This will be because of specific health conditions or treatments. Examples include people who:

  • are waiting on an solid organ transplant
  • are having treatment for cancer or have recently completed treatment

Those individuals do not have to go back into shielding but should seek the advice of their GP or specialist care team and continue to follow any specific advice they receive. If you are unsure if this applies to you, contact your GP for further advice.

Also on this page:

What is shielding and what does it mean?

Access to food and medicine

Other questions and support

What is shielding and what does it mean?

What is shielding? 

Shielding is for people, including children, who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19). If you are within this very high-risk group, a letter from the Scottish Government Chief Medical Officer has been sent to you.   

It means all your supplies i.e. food, medicine and key household products such as toiletries, will need to be delivered to you. Ideally, this support will be provided by family or friends, or through online shopping or medicine delivered direct from a pharmacy. 

But if this is not possible, the council and our partners will arrange to get your supplies to you. If you need this help, you can call our local assistance number on 0300 300 0230 open Mon - Fri from 8.45am - 5.00pm. 

From Friday, 24 July, those who have been shielding can meet indoors with up to 8 people from 2 households, as long as physical distancing is observed.

They can also visit indoor shops, markets and pharmacies, museums, galleries, libraries and cinemas, and attend hairdressers and barbers.

They can also meet outdoors in groups of up to 15 people from a maximum of 4 households per day - an increase from up to 8 people from 2 households. They can also choose to go to pubs and restaurants with outdoor spaces, though it is advised that busy places are avoided.

Those shielding can now also use public transport, as well as taxis, as long as a face covering is worn, and children who live with someone shielding can now also attend formal childcare providers.

Who does shielding apply to? 

If you receive a letter from the Chief Medical Officer about shielding, it's because the NHS has identified you as having an underlying disease or health condition that means if you catch the virus, you are more likely to become seriously ill than others. This applies to people who: 

  • have had a solid organ transplant; 
  • have lung cancer and are receiving active chemotherapy or radiotherapy 
  • have cancers of the blood or bone marrow, such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment 
  • have severe chest conditions such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma and severe COPD 
  • have rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections such as SCID and homozygous sickle cell 
  • are receiving immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer 
  • are receiving other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors 
  • have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs 
  • are receiving immunosuppression therapies that significantly increase risk of infection 
  • are pregnant with significant heart disease (congenital or acquired) 

What additional measures should I take? 

Those who are shielding are still advised to take additional steps to minimise their chance of catching COVID-19 until at least 31 July. This means: 

  • STRICTLY AVOID contact with anyone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)

What about the rest of my household? 

From Friday 10 July, you no longer need to physically distance from people you live with.

What if I don't want to follow the advice?  

If you have been asked to shield, it's because you have been identified as at risk of falling seriously ill should you be infected with Coronavirus. It is your choice to decide whether to follow these measures but we strongly recommend you follow the medical advice - it's there to protect you from serious illness, and could save your life. 

Can I have visitors? 

You can:

  • Meet outdoors in groups of up to 15 people from a maximum of 4 households per day - an increase from up to 8 people from 2 households.
  • Meet in groups of up to eight people indoors from two other households in a single day, as long as strict hand hygiene and physical distancing advice is followed
  • Visit indoor shops, markets and pharmacies, museums, galleries, libraries and cinemas, and attend hairdressers and barbers
  • Form a '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.

You can read the latest guidance on shielding.

Where do I go for more info? 

You can find additional information on shielding on the NHS website.

Questions about shielding support can be answered on the free national helpline number on 0800 111 4000. 

The Scottish Government is running a text-message service for people who are shielding to keep in touch with you and send the latest info direct to your phone. 

To sign up all you need to do is text 07860 064525. When you text, please include your CHI number, which is the ten-digit number at the top of your letter. 

Access to food and medicine

How can I get the food and medicine I need? 

If you are in touch with friends, family or a support network in your community who can support you to get food and medicine, please do so.

If you do not have people who can help support you, the Council, Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership and the NHS will work together to make sure you have access to food supplies and any medicines you need. 

To access this support, call us on 0300 300 0230 to speak to a local assistance adviser. The helpline is open Mon - Fri from 8.45am - 5.00pm. You can also email Shielding support out of these hours and a member of the team will get in touch.

Deliveries of weekly grocery boxes to people shielding will continue until the end of July, if required.

What happens when I call? 

You will speak to an adviser who will take your details and discuss the support you need. We will discuss all the help you need to help you stay at home, and work with you to put this in place. 

How do I get my medicines?  

Pharmacies can deliver prescriptions direct to you. If you already have a delivery service in place with your pharmacy you should keep using this. 

If you don't currently have this service in place, you can either: 

  • Ask someone to pick up your prescription for you and leave them at your door 
  • Contact your pharmacy to arrange for them to deliver your medicines to you. People who are not able to leave the house will be prioritised for delivery. 

If you need help to arrange this, call our local assistance team on 0300 300 0230.

If you get medicines or equipment from your hospital care team, they will arrange to have them delivered to you. 

Other questions and support

I've not received a letter, but I think I should have. What should I do?

Shielding is for people, including children, who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19). If you are within this very high-risk group, a letter from the Scottish Government Chief Medical Officer has been sent to you. If you consider yourself to be in this group but have not yet received a letter and require immediate help please call our Local Assistance Helpline on 0300 300 0230 and speak to a member of our team.

I do not need to shield but I am still at high risk. What should I do?

People who are considered at high-risk of contracting coronavirus (COVID-19) but who are not required to shield can access localised support through a free helpline. This applies to people who are over 70, pregnant, disabled, require an annual flu jab for health reasons or require support through mental health services. The free helpline is available on 0800 111 4000 from 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday.

What happens if I become unwell? 

If you think you have developed symptoms of coronavirus, such as a new, continuous cough and/or high temperature (above 37.8 °C), you must seek clinical advice immediately by phoning the NHS on 111. Do this as soon as you get symptoms and do not wait.  

How do I look after my own well-being? 

We understand that this go without getting outside and that will be difficult, particularly if you are living on your own. There are things you can do to look after your own physical and mental wellbeing while you are shielding - the NHS Inform website has some good advice.  

Our educational psychologists also have some advice on how to look after a child's wellbeing during self-isolation

We can also help you with wellbeing support, money advice and access to financial support and advice, and support with housing. Call 0300 300 0230 for more information.

You can also view our Communities page which lists the various groups offering support. 

What about my job/going to work? 

The letter from the Chief Medical Officer is evidence for your employer, to show that you cannot work outside the home. You do not need to get a separate fit note from your GP. 

Can I leave the house to attend hospital or medical appointments? 

Wherever possible, your GP will provide care by phone, email or online. If your GP needs to see you in person, they will contact you to arrange a visit. 

For planned hospital appointments, NHS Scotland has written to your hospital to ask them to review ongoing care. Some clinics and appointments may be cancelled or postponed. Your hospital or clinic will contact you by phone or letter if any changes need to be made to your care or treatment. Otherwise you should assume this is taking place as planned. Please contact your hospital or clinic directly if you have any questions.  

If you have an urgent medical question relating to your existing medical condition (i.e. not Coronavirus), or the condition of the person you are caring for please contact your GP practice, or specialist hospital care team, directly.