Vulnerable people allowed outside as lockdown is eased for those shielding in England

30 May 2020, 22:00

Clinically vulnerable people will be allowed outside for the first time in two months
Clinically vulnerable people will be allowed outside for the first time in two months. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Clinically vulnerable people will be allowed outside in England for the first time in two months as the government announces more lockdown easing measures.

At the end of March, the government identified and contacted people who were identified as "clinically vulnerable", who have been required to stay home at all times during the coronavirus pandemic, not even leaving for exercise or grocery shopping.

But Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced the 2.2 million who have needed to shield are now allowed to spend time outdoors.

Shielded people who live alone will also be allowed to meet with up to one other person in an outdoor space, so long as socially distancing rules are followed.

The government will also be continuing its support packages for those who are clinically vulnerable, which include the delivery of food or medicines, phone calls and support from volunteers.

Speaking at the Government’s daily press conference on Sunday, Mr Jenrick is expected to set out a plan to review shielding guidance at regular points in the coming weeks.

Food packages will continue to be delivered, as it is not yet safe for clinically vulnerable people to go into shops
Food packages will continue to be delivered, as it is not yet safe for clinically vulnerable people to go into shops. Picture: PA

He said: "Those shielding from coronavirus have made huge sacrifices over recent months to protect both themselves and the NHS - they deserve our thanks and our support for their efforts.

"Incidence rates of coronavirus are now significantly lower than before these measures were put in place. That’s why we are focused on finding the right balance between continuing to protect those at the greatest clinical risk, whilst easing restrictions on their daily lives to make the difficult situation more bearable - particularly enabling the contact with loved ones they and we all seek."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "I want to thank everyone who has followed the shielding guidance – it is because of your patience and sacrifice that thousands of lives have been saved.

“I do not underestimate just how difficult it has been for you, staying at home for the last 10 weeks, and I want to pay tribute to your resilience.

“I also want to recognise the hundreds of thousands of extraordinary volunteers who have supported you in shielding."

Robert Jenrick, pictured delivering care boxes, is expected to lay out more details during Sunday's press conference
Robert Jenrick, pictured delivering care boxes, is expected to lay out more details during Sunday's press conference. Picture: PA

It comes the day after scientists on the government's Sage Committee warned that England is easing the lockdown too soon.

Some experts claimed the decision to relax measures is "political" - indicating the government is not following the science when it comes to the crucial decisions.

Scientists Sir Jeremy Farrar and Professor John Edmunds, both members of Sage, said ministers were taking risks by allowing the gradual reopening of shops and schools and larger gatherings to meet in private.

Figures from the ONS currently estimate there are currently around 8,000 new infections every day in England alone, although these numbers do not included data from hospitals or care homes.

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