Clinically extremely vulnerable workers will no longer be advised to shield from next month, and will be able to return to the workplace if they are unable to do their job from home.
As the Covid-19 infection rate continues to fall and vaccines are rolled out, the deputy chief medical officer (CMO) for England has advised that shielding guidance will be paused from 1 April onwards.
More than nine in 10 clinically extremely vulnerable people have now received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
“With the prevalence of the virus in the community continuing to decrease now is the right time for people to start thinking about easing up on these more rigid guidelines,” said Dr Jenny Harries, deputy CMO.
“If you have been shielding, we strongly urge you to take extra precautions following 1 April to keep yourself as safe as possible, such as continuing to observe social distancing and working from home.”
People currently shielding will soon receive a letter confirming that from 1 April they will no longer be eligible for statutory sick pay or Employment and Support Allowance if they cannot work on the basis of being advised to shield. They may still qualify for these support schemes if they fall ill.
Such workers may still be eligible for the furlough scheme, which will remains in place until 30 September 2021.
Guidance issued by the Department for Health and Social Care to those shielding says: “Everyone is advised to continue to work from home where possible, but if you cannot work from home you should now attend your workplace [from 1 April].
“Your employer is required to take steps to reduce the risk of exposure to Covid-19 in the workplace and should be able to explain to you the measures they have put in place to keep you safe at work.”