Last reviewed 23 March 2021

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed that extremely clinically vulnerable (CEV) people on England’s shielded list will be informed they are no longer advised to shield from 1 April 2021.

The guidance, Covid-19: Guidance on Shielding and Protecting People Defined on Medical Grounds as Extremely Vulnerable, was updated on 18 March to include a link to a new letter to all people on the Shielded Patient List that takes effect from 1 April 2021.

The letter says CEV people will be able to “begin to follow the national restrictions alongside the rest of the population” from April, although they are “still advised to take extra precautions” including strict social distancing and low levels of social contact.

The DHSC said almost 3.8 million shielded patients in England will receive letters about reducing their risk as advice to shield ceases.

On 22 March 2021 the guidance, National Lockdown: Stay at Home, here, was updated to include a summary of changes to the rules from 29 March. It states: “From 1 April, if you have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable you will no longer be advised to shield. However, you should continue to take extra precautions to protect yourself. It is important that you continue to keep the number of social interactions that you have low and try to limit the amount of time you spend in settings where you are unable to maintain social distancing. If you are in this group, you will previously have received a letter from the NHS or from your GP telling you this. Contact your local authority or speak to your GP if you have any concerns.”

More than 9 in 10 CEV people have so far received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

England’s Deputy Chief medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries said: “With the prevalence of the virus in the community continuing to decrease now is the right time for people to start thinking about easing up on these more rigid guidelines. If you have been shielding, we strongly urge you to take extra precautions following 1 April to keep yourself as safe as possible, such as continuing to observe social distancing and working from home.”

She added that shielding advice will be adjusted “should there be any changes in infection rates”.

The updated Covid-19: Guidance on Shielding and Protecting People Defined on Medical Grounds as Extremely Vulnerable is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19.