Shielding guidance for the extremely clinically vulnerable updated
Public Health England has issued two new updates on its 'Guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from Covid-19'.
The first has now been superseded by the second which has been introduced as a result of the lockdown which started on 5 November. It's worth mentioning both sets of guidance as the first may well be reinstated once the lockdown ends.
Shielding was paused on 31 July and the first lot of updated guidance (the October guidance) aimed to strike a better balance between keeping the clinically extremely vulnerable safe and reducing some of the potentially harmful impacts on their mental and social wellbeing associated with the previous strict shielding guidance.
The conditions automatically covered by the definition of "clinically extremely vulnerable" remain unchanged, and the guidance sets out the steps that clinically extremely vulnerable people can take to protect themselves at each local Covid alert level. In areas where the Covid alert level is very high the clinically extremely vulnerable are "strongly advised" to work from home, and those who cannot are advised to discuss temporarily changing their role or working pattern with their employer. Where there is no alternative they are still advised to go into work. The only exception to this is where the government has decided that more restrictive shielding measures are required to the worst affected high alert areas and the individual has received a new shielding letter. Where this applies, they must not attend work if they cannot work from home and they may be eligible for statutory sick pay.
It seems however that with the newly revised guidance on shielding issued on 4 November in response to the national lockdown there is now a return to formal shielding advice. This revised guidance makes it clear, contrary to the October guidance, that if a person is clinically extremely vulnerable and cannot work from home, they should not attend work "for this period of restrictions". Presumably once the restrictions are lifted the guidance will go back to something along the lines of the October guidance again.