Information about shielding

Here is the latest guidance for parents who have been told that their baby or child is extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 and needs to practice shielding.

Last updated: 8th July 2020

What is shielding?

The government have recommended that some people, including some babies and children born sick or premature, should take extra precautions to protect themselves from COVID-19. This is called shielding. People who are encouraged to shield are people who have medical conditions which may make them extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. People who are shielding have been contacted by the NHS, and are included on the shielded patients list.

The advice on shielding is changing in July and August. This page gives the latest updates to guidance for parents of children who are shielding.

This guidance may change quickly, and is different in the different parts of the UK. It is always important to check the latest guidance for where you live.

It is also important to check any local restrictions which may apply. These will be issued by your local authority.

What are the latest updates to shielding guidance?

Changes to guidance for people who are shielding were announced at the beginning of July. Some of these changes have already come into effect, and other changes are expected from the beginning of August. These include changes to which children are expected to shield, as well as changes to meeting up with other people, forming ‘support bubbles’ or ‘extended households’, and plans to pause shielding. We have included some of the main changes affecting babies and children below.

The latest guidance for people who are shielding is different for people living in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

People who are on the shielded patients list may still be at risk of severe illness. If you have been shielding, you are still advised to stay at home as much as you can and continue to take precautions. This includes regular hand washing and staying 2 metres apart from other people who are not in your household or support bubble.

These changes may cause you to be unsure or worried. If you need some extra support, please contact us at hello@bliss.org.uk or speak to your GP.

Can I form a support bubble or extended household?

In England and Northern Ireland, from 6th July, some people who have been shielding are able to form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household. In these parts of the UK, you are only able to do this if at least one of the households includes a person who lives alone or is a single parent (where at least one child is under 18).

If you form a support bubble, you can spend time inside each other’s homes, and stay overnight, without needing to socially distance. There is more information here.

In Wales, from 6th July, people who have been shielding are now able to form an ‘extended household’ with one other household. This is the same guidance as for people who are not shielding, and you do not have to be a single parent family or living alone. There is more information here.

Currently, people who are shielding in Scotland are not able to join a support bubble or form an extended household.

I have been shielding my baby/child. Are there changes to which children need to shield?

In early July, changes were made to the shielding guidance for children. Many children who have been advised to follow shielding guidance will no longer continue to need to do so. Some children with certain medical conditions will need to continue to shield. There is more information here.

If your baby/child has been required to shield, your healthcare team will contact you to talk about what to do next.

Some parents of babies or children born premature or sick, including babies who need oxygen, will need to talk about their child’s needs with their healthcare team before any changes are made. If your child is no longer required to shield, they should continue to maintain strict social distancing.

If you, your baby or child has been advised to shield, you should continue to do so unless you have been advised not to by a medical professional.

Will shielding be paused, and if so, when will that happen?

Shielding is expected to be paused in England and Northern Ireland from 1st August, however this could change. This means that anyone who is currently shielding, will no longer need to do so from the 1st August. There is more information here.

In Wales, anyone who is required to shield is expected to keep shielding until at least 16th August. A letter has been sent to everyone in Wales who is shielding, and another letter will be sent to explain any changes after 16th August.

In Scotland, anyone who is required to shield is expected to keep shielding until at least 31st July. It is not known if shielding will be paused after this date.

If shielding is paused, support packages are likely to no longer be available to people on the shielded patients list. People on this list will still have access to priority supermarket delivery slots and the NHS Volunteer Responders scheme.

You may receive a letter to explain what you should do after these dates. If you are worried or unsure, you can contact us at hello@bliss.org.uk or contact your GP or healthcare team.

My baby/child is required to shield. Do I also have to shield myself?

If your baby or child is shielding, current guidance suggests that members of the same household do not need to shield themselves. It is recommended that others in the household try to support shielding and carefully follow the social distancing guidelines.

If you live in the same household as a baby or child who is shielding, you are still able to continue to work. You should work from home if this is possible.

It is recommended that people who continue to work outside the home follow social distancing guidance. You may want to talk to your employer and explain that someone in your household is extremely vulnerable and is shielding, and ask if there are ways they can support you with social distancing in the workplace.

If you are unsure about how this guidance affects you or your family, you can contact us at hello@bliss.org.uk or speak to your GP.

Working Families have more information about your work rights during COVID-19.

If my child is shielding, should they go to school or nursery? Will this change if shielding is paused?

In England and Northern Ireland, children who are shielding should not attend school or nursery until at least 31st July. If shielding is paused, it is likely that all children, including those who have been shielding will need to attend school, and will be able to attend nursery.

In Wales, children who are shielding not should attend school until at least 16th August. A letter will be sent to everyone in Wales who is shielding to explain what may happen after this date.

In Scotland, children who have been shielding should not attend school or nursery until at least 31st July. Individual risk assessments should be made for any children who are shielding.

If you are unsure about how this guidance affects you or your family, you can contact us at hello@bliss.org.uk or speak to your GP.

Other useful organisations

Asthma UK has information about coronavirus (COVID-19).

Wellchild has specific information about coronavirus (COVID-19) for parents and carers of sick children.

The British Lung Foundation has specific information about coronavirus for people with lung conditions.

The British Heart Foundation have information for people affected by heart or circulatory disease.

Mind has lots of information if you are feeling anxious or worried about COVID-19, and has guidance on how to take care of your mental wellbeing.

Working Families have more information about your work rights during COVID-19.

YoungMinds has more information about how to talk to your children about COVID-19.

We are updating this page as more information becomes available. For more support, get in touch at hello@bliss.org.uk