People who are clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid-19 do not need to resume shielding despite the current rise in cases in England, the Prime Minister has said.
Setting out the Government’s decision on what new measures to bring in to curb the upward trajectory, Boris Johnson said this follows ‘advice from our senior clinicians’.
But it comes as the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance yesterday warned that over 200 people a per day could die in the UK by mid-November unless the country gets a grip on the virus spread.
Earlier this year, some 2.2m people across the UK who were identified as the most vulnerable to Covid-19 were advised not to leave their homes.
However, the shielding programme has been ‘paused’ since August.
Residents in local lockdown areas who have been advised to shield should continue to do so, said Mr Johnson.
Addressing the House of Commons today, the Prime Minister said: ‘I want to speak directly to those who were shielding earlier in the pandemic and who may be anxious about being at greater risk.
‘Following advice from our senior clinicians, our guidance continues to be that you do not need to shield, except in local lockdown areas, and we will keep this under constant review.’
Instead, Mr Johnson set out new measures to minimise virus spread, including:
- Office workers should return to working from home, if they can
- Face coverings will become mandatory for retail and hospitality staff, as well as taxi passengers
- Hospitality venues, including pubs and restaurants, have to close at 10pm from tomorrow onwards
- The maximum number of attendees at weddings will fall from 30 to 15
- Larger sports events will no longer restart from next month
- Indoor sports with more than six people will be banned
Mr Johnson said there would also be ‘tighter penalties’, including for businesses breaking rules, and that the fine for those reusing to wear a face covering will double.
There will also be ‘greater police presence on our streets’, and ‘the option to draw on military support where required,’ he said.
Mr Johnson said the measures would probably need to stay in place for at least six months.
In yesterday’s coronavirus briefing to the public, the Government’s top scientists warned that with the current trajectory, the UK would see 50,000 new cases a day be the middle of October.
In a separate briefing, to the House of Commons, health secretary Matt Hancock set out plans for GPs to be prioritised ahead of the public for Covid testing – but after acute and care workers.
In July, experts suggested to Pulse that many more patients should shield in a second Covid spike, including those with diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.