Going back to work, college and university from 26 April 2021
From 26 April, we expect that people on the shielding list who are currently at Level 4 will be able to return to the workplace, if they cannot work from home. College and university students and young people at school should also be able to return at this time.
This is because, from this date, all areas now in Level 4 should move down to Level 3 or lower. We'll let you know if this changes.
The criteria for moving up or down a level have been tightened in Scotland. This means that at Level 3 of Scottish Government's updated strategic framework infection rates will be low enough to greatly reduce your risk of catching coronavirus.
You should continue to follow the public health advice to protect yourself, even after you've had one or both doses of the vaccine.
Na h-Eileanan an lar (Western Isles) is in Level 3 from 6pm on 24 March
From 6pm on Wednesday 24 March, the Western Isles will move down to Level 3, as the infection risk from coronavirus has reduced. People on the shielding list can return to education and the workplace (if they cannot work from home). We'll let you know if this changes in the future.
Find the Level 3 guidance at gov.scot.
Advice about working in Level 4, updated 17 March
If you live or work in an area that's in Level 4 now, or if it goes up to Level 4 in the future, you should keep working from home if you can. If you cannot work from home, our advice is that you should not go to work while the area in which you live or work is in Level 4. You should follow this advice until the areas where you live and work have gone down to Level 3, or lower. This is a change to the previous advice at Level 4.
The Chief Medical Officer has sent you a letter with this updated advice. You can use this letter, which is called your 'shielding notification', to show your employer that you cannot go into the workplace. This letter is similar to a fit note. You can use it at any time the area you live or work is at Level 4.
This new shielding notification is valid until 30 June.
Working if you've been vaccinated
You should follow the advice for those on the shielding list , even if you have had one or both doses of the coronavirus vaccine. This includes the advice about work. We'll let you know if this advice changes as we learn more about the impact of the vaccination.
Making your workplace safe
Employers have a legal duty to make the workplace safe for all staff. It is the employer's responsibility to regularly carry out workplace risk assessments and take steps to reduce coronavirus risk. Employees also have a responsibility to follow safe working practices.
If you feel unsafe in your workplace and have already spoken to your employer, you can get more advice from:
- Occupational Health Services (if your employer offers them)
- the Health and Safety representative in your workplace
- HR (your employer's Human Resources team, if there is one)
- your trade union or professional body
- the Citizens Advice website or the free Citizens Advice Helpline on 0800 028 1456, (Monday to Friday, office hours)
Financial help if you cannot work
Financial help is available if you cannot work due to our advice for people on the shielding list, or for other reasons related to coronavirus. For example, caring responsibilities. You should also ask your employer if they can offer any other financial support not mentioned below.
Your employer may be able to furlough you through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The scheme runs until 30 September 2021. If furloughed, you will stay off work but get up to 80% of your normal pay. Your employer will also keep paying your National Insurance and pension contributions.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and benefits
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
If you're self-employed and have lost income during coronavirus, you may be able to claim a grant from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). You will be able to claim online from late April 2021 until 31 May 2021.
Claims are closed at the moment. If you're eligible for a grant, HMRC will contact you in mid-April 2021 with the date that you can make your claim from.
If you're facing a gap in your usual income, you may be able to apply for a crisis grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund.
If Test and Protect have contacted you and asked to self-isolate because of coronavirus, you may be eligible for the Self-Isolation Support Grant.
For money advice visit the Money Talk Team website or call Money Talk for free on 0800 085 7145.
Over 90% of people aged 16 or over on the shielding list have now had their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. We would urge all adults on the shielding list who have not yet had the vaccine to do so, unless there's a medical reason why you should not.
When you can expect your vaccination appointment
If you were added to the shielding list before mid-February 2021 and are aged 16 or over, you should already have been contacted about your first vaccination appointment. If you're an adult who was added to the shielding list after mid-February 2021, you'll be contacted soon by post or phone, if you have not already been. Children and young people under 16 on the shielding list can only be vaccinated under exceptional circumstances, after an individual risk assessment by their clinician.
NHS inform has more information about the order of priority for vaccination. To find out more about the vaccine visit the NHS inform website. Or call the Scottish COVID-19 Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013 (open daily, 8am to 8pm).
You will be offered an appointment as soon as it's possible for you to get the vaccine. It's important not to contact NHS Scotland or your GP practice for a vaccination before then.
If you think you should have been invited to your vaccination appointment by now, or if you have lost your invitation letter, find out what to do on the NHS inform website.
If you need help getting to your vaccination appointment
If you don't have your own transport or support with transport and need help getting to your vaccination appointment, please phone the Scottish COVID-19 Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013 (open daily, 8am-8pm). Our general advice for people on the shielding list is to avoid public transport including taxis while the area where you live is in lockdown, unless this is arranged for you in order to get to your vaccination. The Vaccination Helpline will give you a local number to call to arrange this.
If you are unable to leave your home for your vaccination appointment or wish to make alternative arrangements
If you are unable to leave your home for your vaccination appointment or wish to make alternative arrangements, there are other ways to get your coronavirus vaccination. For advice on this, please phone the Scottish COVID-19 Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013 (open daily, 8am-8pm).
If you've already had the vaccine
At the moment, we advise people on the shielding list, whether or not you've had the vaccine, to keep following the extra advice for the level your area is in. If you live or work in a lockdown area, our advice is that you should not go to work if you cannot work from home, even if you've had the vaccine. We will let you know if this advice changes as we learn more about the impact of the vaccination.
If someone who lives with you has had the vaccine
People who live with you should continue to follow the public health rules and guidance, even if they've had the vaccine.
If you're in Level 3 and can't work from home
At Level 3, the majority of workplaces can be made safe. You should speak to your employer about making sure all the appropriate protective measures are in place. You can also use the Covid-age tool to assess your personal risk and highlight this to your employer.
Extra advice for those at higher risk from coronavirus
There is also extra advice for those at higher risk from coronavirus , which you can choose to follow as well as the general guidance for your area.
The booklet 'Balancing the risks of daily activities during coronavirus' also offers tips on staying safe. Find the booklet on gov.scot in English, Arabic, BSL, Cantonese, easy-read, Japanese, Polish and Urdu.
Attending medical appointments
You should attend any medical appointments as usual.
Going to school, college and formal childcare
Children and young people on the shielding list
Children and young people on the shielding list can return to school, college or formal childcare when the areas where they live and study move to Level 3. This is likely to be from 26 April.
Children and young people should not attend school, college or formal childcare in person, until the areas where they live and study both move down to Level 3 or below. The only exception to this is if their clinical team has advised otherwise.
Children and young people who live with someone on the shielding list
We are currently planning for children and young people who are not on the shielding list to be able to return to school after the Easter holidays, if they have not already done so. This applies to children or young people who live with someone on the shielding list too. They should follow their school's safety measures.
We also encourage your children to make use of the twice-weekly at-home Lateral Flow Testing offered to pupils at all secondary schools. It's important that any positive results from these Lateral Flow devices are followed up with confirmatory PCR tests.
If you have concerns, talk to the school about steps they can take to address these. Schools should be as flexible as possible.
Follow the advice for the general population, which you can find on the Parent Club website. This includes advice on precautions you can take to stay safe. You should only use or provide informal childcare (babysitters, nannies, and care by family or friends) if essential.
Adults who live with you
If you live with people who work, they should work from home if they can. If they cannot work from home, they can go to work, even in Level 4 areas. Their employers have a responsibility to make sure their workplace and duties are COVID-safe. Your household member should discuss any concerns with their employer. They should tell their employer they live with someone who is on the shielding list.
People who live with you should continue to follow FACTS guidance even if they've had the vaccine, to reduce the chance of spreading the virus.
Mental health support
We recognise that the current situation is very stressful. If you are feeling low, anxious, depressed, overwhelmed or lonely, there's lots of help and advice available. Visit gov.scot for mental health advice and resources.
Getting outside is good for mental and physical health. As restrictions ease, we advise getting out in the fresh air when you can.
Check COVID-19 infection rates in your neighbourhood
Find information about infection levels in your neighbourhood on the Public Health Scotland dashboard.
You can use the dashboard to:
- see where COVID-19 cases in Scotland are growing or reducing over time
- find out more about the number of cases in your local area by filtering the dashboard's data
- find up-to-date information about the progress of the vaccination programme
- find out hospitalisation and intensive care statistics
The Scottish Government also publishes a 'modelling the epidemic' report each week. The first page of these reports contains a summary of the key points. This includes current estimates of the R number in Scotland and the growth rate of infections.
Updating your details on the shielding list
Updating your address on the shielding list
If you have changed address since being added to the shielding list, contact your GP practice and ask them to update the address they hold for you. Your address will then be updated on the shielding list too. If your GP practice has updated your address but your shielding letters are still being sent to the wrong place, email email@example.com. Use the subject line 'Change to shielding list details'. Include your full name, CHI number and new address.
Updating your phone number on our text messaging service
To sign up for our text messaging service with your new phone number, text your CHI number to 07860 064525 from your new phone number.
Help with updating your details on the shielding list
If you need help with updating your details on the shielding list, call the free National Assistance Helpline on 0800 111 4000 (Monday-Friday, office hours).
Past shielding letters
You can find past letters we sent to people on the shielding list at gov.scot. You can also find other languages and formats for the letters there.
Sign up for our free text message service
Two-thirds of people on the shielding list are signed up for our text message service. If you sign up, you'll get updates sent straight to your mobile about local outbreaks or new restrictions affecting your area.
We'll also occasionally send other information we think you'll find useful.
To sign up you need to send your Community Health Index (CHI) number to 0786 006 4525. You can find your CHI number on the letters we've sent you.
Medicine delivery service
The NHS in Scotland has launched a medicine delivery service for clinically vulnerable people during coronavirus.
If your pharmacy offers this service and you're eligible, they'll contact you. You're eligible if your pharmacist considers you to be at high risk, if you've formally been asked to shield in the past, or if you're self-isolating.
Your pharmacist can add you to their list for medicine delivery if they feel you would benefit from the service.
If you haven't heard from your pharmacy, please contact them to check your eligibility and whether they offer the service.
Priority access to supermarket online delivery slots
If you, your child or someone you care for is on the shielding list, you can sign up for priority access to supermarket online delivery slots.
Once you register you will get priority access to see online delivery slots. We cannot guarantee you'll always get your preferred slot, particularly during busy periods.
Sign up for priority online delivery slots
If you have not registered for priority access to online supermarket delivery slots, you can sign up now. Supermarkets offering this service are:
If you sign up for the service, the Scottish Government will pass your details to these supermarkets on a monthly basis.
Registering for a priority online delivery slot using the Shielding text message service
If you are a parent or guardian of a child on the shielding list you'll need to register using the child's name. If you are a carer, use the name of the person you care for.
- If you are already signed up to the Scottish Government Shielding text messaging service, sign up for priority access to online slots by texting 1SHOP to 07860 064525 from your mobile.
- If you are not signed up to our text messaging service, join by sending a text from your mobile with your Community Health Index (CHI) number to 07860 064525. Your CHI number is the 10-digit number shown at the top of this letter.
- After you have done this, text 1SHOP to 07860 064525 to sign up for priority access to online delivery slots.
Registering for an online priority slot by phone
Please call the free National Assistance Helpline number on 0800 111 4000 (Monday – Friday, business hours). A friend or carer can call for you if you cannot call yourself.
If you are already an online customer with Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Iceland or Waitrose
Your supermarket will email you to let you know how to access the delivery service. They will send an email to the account you have registered with. If you do not receive an email, check that the email address you have registered with is still correct or check your junk mail folder.
If you are a new to online supermarket shopping
Once supermarkets have confirmed they do not have you listed as an existing customer, you will get texts from GOV.SCOT about the supermarkets that provide online deliveries in your area. The texts will explain how to sign up for these.
There's no guarantee that you will get a slot with the supermarket you want, or that you will always get your preferred slot. It may take 2-3 weeks for a supermarket to confirm you are on their system once you have registered for this service.
Other ways to get food and essentials
In every protection level, you can visit shops and supermarkets yourself. They have put in protective measures to help keep you safe. If you do visit supermarkets and shops, you must wear a face covering and follow physical distancing advice.
If you can't wear a face covering because of health conditions, disabilities or other special circumstances, you can ask for a Face Covering Exemption card.
Find more information about getting food and essentials at gov.scot. This includes information about:
If you need more support with food and essentials
We are not currently planning to reintroduce food boxes. This is because we are not asking you to stop going to shops. But you should limit the number of times you visit shops, shop at quieter times, and shop online if you can.
As before, it is important to use family, friends, and neighbours for support. But if you do need extra support getting food, medicine and other essentials, you can call the National Assistance Helpline on 0800 111 4000 (Monday-Friday, office hours).
Research about shielding
Read research reports about the shielding service on gov.scot.
Advice about specific health conditions
Find advice about coronavirus and specific health conditions at gov.scot. Your clinician or healthcare provider may also give you specific, personalised advice, because of a certain health condition or treatment.
How we support people on the shielding list
Even though we're not asking you to shield right now we'll keep supporting people on the list.
- stay on the list of shielding people, so we can contact you and update you if our advice changes – you can request to be removed from the list by asking your GP or hospital clinician
- get updates by text from our text messaging service – this includes alerts if there is an increased risk in your area
- have access to guidance around protecting yourself in daily life – this includes guidance on returning to work or school
- be able to contact the National Assistance Helpline on 0800 111 4000 if you need help from your local council. Phone: 0800 111 4000 (Monday-Friday, office hours). Text: 0800 111 4114 (Monday-Friday, office hours)
- be able to sign up for priority access to supermarket online delivery slots
Sign up for our text message service
Two-thirds of people on the shielding list are signed up for our text message service. If you join, you'll get updates sent straight to your mobile about local outbreaks or new restrictions affecting your area.
We'll also occasionally send other information we think you'll find useful.
To sign up you need to send your Community Health Index (CHI) number to 0786 006 4525.
You can find your CHI number on the letters we've sent you.
How to opt out of our text message service
You can stop receiving text message updates from the SMS service at any time. To do so, text STOPMESSAGE to 0786 006 4525. You will remain on the shielding list.
Avoid public transport. If you don't have your own transport or support with transport and need help getting to your coronavirus vaccination appointment, please phone the Scottish COVID-19 Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013 (open daily, 8am-8pm).
You should only car share with members of your own or extended household. If you have no other option, you should follow the Transport Scotland guidance on car sharing and take extra care.
If you're on the shielding list and get a citation for jury duty, you can choose not to attend. But you must contact the court to be excused.
To be excused from jury duty, email the address on your jury citation. Explain that you're on the shielding list.
Find details of the excusal process and other information for jurors on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals website.
Vitamin D is important for keeping your bones and muscles healthy. Sunlight is our main source of vitamin D. In Scotland, we only get enough of the right kind of sunlight for our bodies to make vitamin D between April and September. From October to March, we rely on dietary sources of vitamin D. Since vitamin D is found only in a small number of foods, it can be difficult to get enough from food alone.
We recommend that everyone should consider taking a daily supplement of vitamin D. The dose should be 10 microgram (10µg). Especially during autumn and winter when we're unable to make vitamin D from sunlight.
For most people taking a 10-microgram supplement of vitamin D daily is safe. But there are some who should seek advice first due to certain health conditions or medication. This is because taking too much vitamin D can cause calcium to build up in your body and this can weaken your bones and damage your heart and kidneys. You should seek advice from your clinician, specialist nurse, pharmacist, midwife or health visitor if you:
- have known hypercalcaemia (high levels of calcium in the blood - this can be associated with high levels of parathyroid hormone, kidney stones, certain cancers, and chronic kidney disease)
- have sarcoidosis (an inflammatory condition which can affect various parts of the body including the lungs and glands)
- take digoxin
- take calcium or other vitamin supplements already
Find out more about vitamin D supplements on gov.scot.
You can also find a leaflet about vitamin D on the Public Health Scotland website. The leaflet is available in English, Arabic, Polish, Traditional Chinese and Urdu. You can also ask for it in other formats such as large print, braille and audio versions.
How the NHS handles your personal health information
Find out how the NHS handles your personal health information on the NHS inform website.
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