Coronavirus: Some ‘extremely vulnerable’ people to be allowed outside for first time since lockdown

The government has changed its guidance for people on the social shielding list. Picture: SARAH LUCY

The government has changed its guidance for people on the social shielding list. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Some of the 35,000 people in Suffolk banned from going outside for months under Covid-19 restrictions will finally be allowed to spend time with other people outdoors from tomorrow (Monday, June 1).

Thousands of people were added to the government’s social shielding list from March, to identify those most in need of protection from the virus and extra support in terms of food parcels.

Its original list, based on NHS data, 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.

However, having started with a list of 10,000 people in Suffolk, GPs have since been adding names to the list of patients they believed also qualified but were not originally included.

That meant the list in Suffolk swelled to more than 35,000. In Ipswich, the list of extremely vulnerable grew to more than 6,000.

People on the list received an NHS letter and text message telling them: “Do not leave your house,” for fear they might become infected - an instruction that was due to remain in place until the end of June.

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However, the government has now announced that people on the social shielding list who live alone will be allowed to spend time with other people from Monday - provided it is outdoors and they obersve the two-metre social distancing rules at all times.

The easing of restrictions for those shielding follows criticism that this group had been left feeling “forgotten”.

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However, some have suggested that those classed as extremely vulnerable would want to hear evidence that it is safe for them to go outside.

Around 6,000 people in Suffolk have also been receiving government food parcels to ensure they have enough supplies, particularly if the restrictions mean they cannot go out to get food.

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