Tier 4 shielding guidance: Who needs to shield and can people go to work?

21 December 2020, 11:06 | Updated: 21 December 2020, 11:09

Clinically vulnerable people in Tier 4 will need to shield
Clinically vulnerable people in Tier 4 will need to shield. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

The government has issued new guidance for clinically vulnerable people living under Tier 4 restrictions. But who needs to shield in Tier 4 and can shielding people go to work and the shops?

On Saturday, the government announced Tier 4 restrictions would come into force for 18 million people in south-east England from Sunday due to the identity of new Covid-19 strain.

It means thousands of people will need to shield again in a bid to protect them from the virus amid the news of a new, more contagious, strain - so who will need to shield? And what are the rules?

Explained: What is Tier 4 and which areas are in Tier 4?

Sadiq Khan pleads with Londoners to "stay at home and follow the rules"

Clinically vulnerable people had to shield in the first national lockdown, but did not have to in the second lockdown or under the three Tier system.

Read below for all the information on the new guidance and who it affects.

Tier 4 shielding: Thousands of people will need to remain at home
Tier 4 shielding: Thousands of people will need to remain at home. Picture: PA

Who needs to shield in Tier 4?

Under new government guidance, anyone who is classed as "extremely clinically vulnerable" will need to shield in Tier 4.

This group is defined as anyone whose immune system may be suppressed, or anyone with other conditions such as specific cancers or severe respiratory conditions.

People on the list will receive a specific identifying letter telling them they need to shield.

Anyone with more general underlying health conditions or people aged 70 or over may still be more vulnerable to Covid-19 than the general population, so are also advised to "stay at home as much as possible, to carefully follow the rules and minimise contact with others".

Anyone in Tier 4 areas who received the shielding letter in November and whose condition hasn't changed should follow the advice immediately until they receive the letter, the government said.

Can shielding people go to work in Tier 4?

People who are extremely clinically vulnerable and living in a Tier 4 area should not go to work if they cannot work from home.

Anyone who cannot go to work because they are shielding may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit or the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme during this period.

People in the same household who are not clinically extremely vulnerable can still attend work.

Can shielding people go to the shops in Tier 4?

Anyone shielding is advised to avoid all non-essential travel, including going to shops or pharmacies.

However, people who are shielding should continue to travel to hospital and GP appointments as required unless told otherwise by their doctor.

Anyone shielding should stay at home as much as possible, except to go outdoors to exercise.

Children who are shielding should not to attend school during term times if told to stay home by a doctor, but children who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but aren’t themselves, should still attend school.

The government has confirmed it will be ensuring that support is available for those who need it, such as access to food and medicines and signposting to local support or befriending services.

NHS Volunteer Responders will be on hand to offer "regular, friendly phone call, and transport to and from medical appointments".