New shielding guidance published


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Public Health England has published new shielding guidance which applies from 2 December 2020 when the second lockdown, which commenced on 5 November 2020, came to an end.

During the lockdown period from 5 November to 2 December those shielding were strongly advised to work from home and told that they should not attend work. The new guidance aims "to strike a better balance between providing practical steps to help keep [those who have previously been instructed to shield] safe while reducing some of the potentially harmful impacts on mental and social wellbeing that were associated with previous strict shielding".

The new guidance makes it clear that, in future, the government will only reintroduce formal shielding advice in the very worst affected local areas and for a limited period of time. This will apply only to some, but not all, tier 3 areas and will be based on advice from the Chief Medical Officer. If someone is advised to shield again the government will write to them to tell them to do so.

The new guidance is very similar to that which applied in the pre-lockdown guidance. Although the clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to work from home where possible, they should otherwise go into work. Even if they live or work in a tier 3, very high-risk area, they are no longer strongly advised to work from home. The guidance states that clinically extremely vulnerable employees in tier 3 areas who are concerned about going into work may wish to speak to their employer about temporarily taking on an alternative role, or changing their working patterns (the example given is avoiding travel in rush hour).

The guidance also reminds the people to whom it relates that their employer may be able to furlough them under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
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