Search

What do the new coronavirus alert systems mean for people who are shielding?

PUBLISHED: 16:14 13 October 2020 | UPDATED: 16:14 13 October 2020

Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for Public Health England. Picture: Adrian Judd

Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for Public Health England. Picture: Adrian Judd

Archant 2011

People who were advised to shield during the peak coronavirus lockdown have been given new government guidance.

The new advice has been issued to more than two million people across England after prime minister Boris Johnson unveiled the three-tier alert system in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

The government said none of the alert levels - medium, high and very high - which come into force tomorrow would automatically trigger a warning for those who shielded before to shield again and stay home at all times.

Norfolk and Waveney is classed as the medium category meaning everyone has to continue following the rule of six and pubs and restaurants have to close at 10pm.

MORE: No ‘green light’ for Norfolk, as PM outlines three-tier Covid-19 restrictions

The government has said that people in medium-risk areas who previously shielded should strictly observe social distancing, meet others outside where possible, limit unnecessary journeys on public transport and work from home where possible.

Former shielders Wendy Howe  left and Sue Lawrence at Waterloo Park after lockdown restrictions altered in July 2020. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANFormer shielders Wendy Howe left and Sue Lawrence at Waterloo Park after lockdown restrictions altered in July 2020. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

People can still go to work and children should still attend school. Freelance journalist Laura James, 51, from Reepham, who shielded during the first wave of the virus, said she is worried about her safety amid the rise in infections.

Mrs James, who has the rare inherited condition Ehlers-Danlos syndrome which affects her connective tissue, said: “The government is in a totally unenviable position. I do have real sympathy for them to balance the needs of the population and the economy. They are caught between a rock and a hard place.”

MORE: ‘I don’t want this to happen to your family’ - Author’s plea after father’s death from coronavirus

She added there were many different groups of people who had to shield in March and believed a one-size-fits-all approach would not work.

Mrs James said the government should provide a furlough-style payment scheme for people who needed to shield but could not work from home.

Reepham author and freelance jourmalist Laura James, who has been shielding during the pandemic. Picture: Tim JamesReepham author and freelance jourmalist Laura James, who has been shielding during the pandemic. Picture: Tim James

The author, who has lived her life carefully since the outbreak, added: “I worry for my health if I catch coronavirus. I’m going to start getting more militant again.”

Sue Lawrence, 72, from Newark Close in Thorpe St Andrew, who shielded from March until July due to her having Huntington’s disease, said: “I think people should still be shielding. I am always wearing a mask and I’m a bit unhappy about going on the buses. I will be as careful as I can. It is such a shame this is going on but you have to go with it.”

Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England, said: “Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen a sharp increase in the prevalence of the virus across the country and we know those who are clinically extremely vulnerable are looking for practical advice on how they can carry on their lives while the virus remains in our communities.

“The new system will provide clarity on how best those in this group can keep themselves as safe as possible depending on the rates of transmission in their local area.

“Whilst advisory, I would urge all those affected to follow the guidance wherever they can and to continue to access health services for their medical conditions.

“We will continue to monitor the evidence closely and fine-tune this approach to make sure everyone in this group is clear about the safest way to go about their daily lives, particularly over the coming winter months.”


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Diss Mercury. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Diss Mercury