Last reviewed 22 December 2020

Following the Government’s decision to introduce new Tier 4 restrictions from 20 December (see GB Governments introduce tougher rules now and at Christmas), it has produced further guidance for the most vulnerable people in these areas.

Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals are strongly urged to follow the updated guidance which can be found at GOV.UK.

This group includes those whose immune systems may be suppressed, or other specific conditions, for instance following an organ transplant, or those with specific cancers or severe respiratory conditions, such as cystic fibrosis.

They should, the guidance insists, stay at home as much as possible, except to go outdoors to exercise or attend health appointments. They should work from home but, if that is not possible, they should not attend the workplace.

They may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit or the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme during this period.

If a GP or clinician has advised that a child should remain on the shielded patient list, they are advised not to attend school during term times. Children who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but are not in this category themselves, should still attend school.

“Letters will be going out to all those affected by the new shielding rules for Tier 4 areas later this week,” the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said, “although we advise they may take slightly longer than usual to arrive due to the Christmas period.”

Recognising that there will be a level of public concern following news of the tendency for it to spread more quickly, Public Health England has issued information about the new virus variant.

Available at GOV.UK, this highlights that there is no evidence that it is more likely to cause severe disease or mortality.

Furthermore, there is currently no evidence to suggest that the Pfizer vaccine would not protect people against the new strain, the DHSC points out.