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Advice if you're clinically extremely vulnerable (shielding)

If you're at high risk (clinically extremely vulnerable) from coronavirus (COVID-19), we're introducing additional advice and support to help further protect you. This is in line with the government's national restrictions guidance which starts from 5 November until 2 December.

Whilst this does not go as far as the shielding guidance introduced in March, it does contain similar protections and support. We've also relaxed some of the advice, so that you are now able to go outside for exercise.

See the new government guidance on shielding in full.

Who the new guidance applies to

This new guidance applies to you if you are clinically extremely vulnerable. This means that you face the highest risk of serious illness if your contract Covid-19.

If you are in this group, you may have received a letter from the NHS or your GP telling you this, and you may have been advised to shield in the past.

Down's syndrome (adults only) and chronic kidney disease (stage 5) have recently been added as conditions that meet the criteria of extreme clinical vulnerability and therefore the new guidance also applies to individuals with either condition.

See how to get help if you're self-isolating. This includes requesting help with support to access food supplies and essential supplies, collecting medicines and our 'Chat together' service if you just want to hear a friendly voice and want someone to check that you are managing.

How the guidance is different to the guidance in March

This new guidance is less restrictive than the guidance for anyone shielding between March and July. It provides practical steps to help keep you safe while reducing some of the potentially harmful impacts on your mental and social wellbeing of previous shielding guidance. The main differences are:

  • While we are still advising that you stay at home as much as possible, you can go outside to take exercise or to attend essential health appointments.
  • There is no need for self-isolation within your household, although you are advised to social distance where possible and follow the guidance of 'Hands. Face. Space'.

Information and support

We've pulled together information for you under the following headings:

Food and help to stay at home

You're advised not to go to the shops. See how to get help if you're self-isolating, which has information on the different types of support available. This includes requesting help with support to access food and essential supplies, collecting medicines and our 'Chat together' service if you just want to hear a friendly voice and want someone to check that you are managing.

In addition, you can find out how how to get food when you're self-isolating, which includes information on how to request priority slots for supermarket deliveries, where you can buy food boxes from and what to do it you need further support.

The government are not re-introducing nationally provided food parcels.


It is important that you continue to receive the care and support you need to help you stay safe and well. You should continue to seek support from the NHS for any health conditions.

You can access a range of NHS services from home, including ordering repeat prescriptions or contacting your health professional through an online consultation. To find out more visit, or download the NHS App. If you have an urgent medical need, call NHS 111 or, for a medical emergency, dial 999.

If friends and family are not able to collect medicines for you, then you will be eligible for free medicines delivery. Contact your pharmacy to inform them that you are clinically extremely vulnerable and need your medicines delivered, and they will arrange this free of charge. 

Household information

Members of your household are not required to shield and should follow the new national restrictions for the general population. That means they should continue to go to work and/or school.

To further protect yourself from Covid-19, you should try to stay two metres away from other people within your home, especially if they display symptoms of the virus or have been advised to self-isolate. You should also follow the guidance of 'Hands. Face. Space'.


Measures to protect tenants during the COVID-19 outbreak remain in place - if you have any concerns, see our housing advice during the coronavirus outbreak.    

Leaving the house

While you're advised to stay at home as much as possible, you should still go outside for exercise (because of the health benefits this brings) or to attend health appointments. You can go out for as long and as often as you wish.

If you do go out, keep all contact with others to a minimum and avoid busy areas. You should also follow the guidance of 'Hands. Face. Space'.

In line with the national restrictions everyone should avoid travelling in or out of their local area, and look to reduce the number of journeys they make, In addition if you are clinically extremely vulnerable, you should avoid all non-essential travel by private or public transport (but you can travel a short .distance to exercise if this is necessary).

Mental health support

If you or someone you care for are experiencing a mental health crisis, you should contact your GP or existing care team or access further advice via NHS.UK. Online self-referral options are commonly available for some services including children and young people's mental health services, and psychological therapies services for adults with common mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. 

We also provide the following information and support:


Our Covid-19 financial support provides information about benefits available.


You do not have to stay in your home if you need to leave to escape domestic abuse. If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, call 999 and then either press 55 on a mobile when prompted or wait on a landline and you will be connected to a police call handler who will be able to assist you without you having to speak. 

Schools and nurseries

If your child is clinically extremely vulnerable

Even children with existing health conditions have a very low risk of becoming very unwell from Covid-19. We also know how important it is for children to be able to continue their education. Speak to your child's specialist doctor or GP if you have not already done so, to understand whether your child should still be classed as clinically extremely vulnerable.

If your child's doctor has confirmed that your child is clinically extremely vulnerable, your child is advised not to attend school or nursery whilst this advice is in place. Your child's school will make appropriate arrangements for them to be able to continue their education at home.

If a child lives with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable

Children who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but who are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves, should still attend school or nursery. 

If you work in a school or nursey

If you work in a school, you should not be attending - see our work information and support

If you work in the education or childcare sectors and live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, if you cannot work from home, you can still attend work if in line with the wider rules set out in the new national restrictions from 5 November.


If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, you should not work outside your home until 2 December. Your employer is expected to help you to work from home. You should talk to your employer as soon as you can about the new guidance.  

If you cannot work, the government has extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) until the end of March 2020, which you may be eligible for if you were on payroll before 30 October 2020. Please speak to your employer if you think you are eligible. 

Additionally, the letter you will receive can act as evidence for your employer to show that you cannot work outside your home until 2 December and that you are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA), provided other eligibility criteria are also met.    

If you cannot work, you may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), Universal Credit (UC) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA). Eligibility criteria apply.   

  • SSP is payable for up to 28 weeks per sickness absence. If you have used up your SSP entitlement, you may be able to claim UC and/or ESA when your SSP ends, depending on your circumstances. 
  • SSP is intended as a safety net for individuals who are clinically extremely vulnerable, in cases where their employer chooses not to furlough them under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and does not have other suitable policies in place (e.g. the ability to work from home, or the provision of special leave).


The Government recognises the continued impact that Covid-19 has had on the self-employed and has extended the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

The SEISS Grant Extension provides critical support to the self-employed in the form of two grants, each available for three month periods covering November 2020 to January 2021 and February 2021 to April 2021.

Household members

  • Where it is not possible to work from home, household members who are not classified as clinically extremely vulnerable can still go to work if they cannot work from home. 
  • They should take extra care to follow the public health guidance on hand washing, social distancing, and complying with any Covid secure workplace guidance.  
  • Try to remain two meters apart from each other, especially if household members display symptoms of the virus or have been advised to self-isolate 

Ask a question

If this page doesn't answer your question, you can use our COVID-19 general enquiry form and we will get back to you with a response as soon as possible.

Contact us
County Durham Together Community Hub
03000 260 260
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