Vulnerable and at-risk groups, including some people with multiple sclerosis (MS) will soon be able to spend time outside their homes, the Health and Social Care Secretary has announced.
From Monday 6 July, people shielding from COVID-19 will be able to gather in groups of up to six as well as form a support bubble with another household. A bubble is defined as a group of people with whom you have close physical contact. The idea was first introduced in New Zealand. This is another household with whom you can meet indoors and outdoors. People in each bubble can visit each other's homes and go inside, but once this bubble is formed with another household, neither household can switch and join a bubble with a different household.
The government support package will stay in place until the end of July, after which people will be advised to no longer shield. The support package includes priority for supermarket delivery slots, and still being able to access help with shopping, medication, phone calls and transport to medical appointments until 1 August.
Those who are shielding and live alone or are single parents with children will also be able to create a ‘support bubble’ with one other household of any size, which is the case currently for the rest of the population.
There are around 2.2 million people in England with underlying severe health conditions who have been advised to stay at home and avoid non-essential face-to-face contact.
From Saturday 1 August, the guidance will then be relaxed so people shielding will no longer be advised to shield.
While this group of people who were shielding should continue to follow strict social distancing measures, they will be able to participate in more activities such as visiting shops and places of worship.
From 1 August, those who need to work and cannot do so from home will be able to return to work as long as their workplace is COVID secure, adhering to the guidance available.
If you have been affected by this latest developments and need support you can call the MS-UK Helpline free on 0800 783 0518 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: MS-UK 24 June 2020
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