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Thousands of ‘shielding’ Suffolk residents to be given more freedom from July

PUBLISHED: 17:07 22 June 2020 | UPDATED: 17:07 22 June 2020

People in the 'shielding' group will be allowed to leave their homes from the start of July, the government has announced Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

People in the 'shielding' group will be allowed to leave their homes from the start of July, the government has announced Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Thousands of Suffolk residents told not to go out because they are classed as “extremely vulnerable” to Covid-19 will be allowed to spend more time outside from the start of next month.

Health Secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock said coronavirus infection rates had fell to allow for the new measures 
Picture: STEFAN ROUSSEAU/PAHealth Secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock said coronavirus infection rates had fell to allow for the new measures Picture: STEFAN ROUSSEAU/PA

The number of people in Suffolk who received letters and text messages telling them not to leave their homes at one stage reached 35,000.

However from July 6, those who have been shielding will be allowed to gather in groups of up to six people and form a ‘support bubble’ with members of another household - so long as social distancing guidelines are respected.

The list, based on NHS data and input from GPs, included those with specific medical conditions which put them at greater risk from Covid-19 – such as those with breathing problems, cancer patients and pregnant women.

But now Matt Hancock, health secretary and West Suffolk MP, has issued new guidance which will allow those people more freedom, as coronavirus infection rates have continued to fall.

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It has also been revealed that restrictions will be relaxed further on August 1, when the most vulnerable people in communities will no longer be urged to shield.

Coronavirus lockdown measures have been relaxed in recent weeks, with some students back at school, all non-essential shops allowed to reopen and people allowed to leave their homes an unlimited amount of times for exercise.

It is hoped the hospitality sector, including pubs and restaurants, will be permitted to reopen on July 4.

Mr Hancock paid tribute to those who have been shielding for their “resilience” throughout the virus outbreak.

He said: “I want to thank all those who have been shielding for so many weeks for their commitment to the shielding programme. I know this has been incredibly tough.
“Shielding has involved not leaving your house for months, not seeing people you care about, not being able to wander to the park for fresh air or even pop to the shops for something you need.

“This sacrifice has been for a purpose. We knew it was a difficult ask, but these measures have been vital in saving lives.

“With infection rates continuing to fall in our communities, our medical experts have advised that we can now ease some of these measures, while keeping people safe.”

MORE: Do Suffolk young people think coronavirus crisis has affected their life chances?


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