Coronavirus - support if you're on the shielding list

Last updated: 26 November 2020

Protection levels in Scotland

There are now 5 protection levels across different areas of Scotland. There are different restrictions and advice for each level. You can find out what level your local area is in at gov.scot.

Areas changed to Level 4 from 6pm on 20 November

Some areas are changed to Protection Level 4 from 6pm on 20 November.

These areas are:

  • The City of Glasgow
  • East Ayrshire
  • East Dunbartonshire
  • East Renfrewshire
  • North Lanarkshire
  • Renfrewshire
  • South Ayrshire
  • South Lanarkshire
  • Stirling
  • West Dunbartonshire
  • West Lothian

Find the guidance for Protection Level 4 at gov.scot. This includes extra advice for people at higher risk from coronavirus.

Area changed from Level 3 to Level 2 from 24 November

East Lothian changed to Protection Level 2 from 24 November. Find the guidance for Protection Level 2 at gov.scot. This includes extra advice for people at higher risk from coronavirus.

Protection Levels - extra advice

You must follow the same guidelines as everyone else in your protection level. But there is also extra advice for those on the shielding list (PDF). You can decide to follow this advice as well as the general guidelines for your level. Your GP or healthcare provider may also give you specific, personalised advice, because of a certain health condition or treatment.

Whatever protection level you're in, you can still be in close contact with people in your household and extended household. You can also take outdoor exercise.

Festive household bubbles

From 23 to 27 December, you can form a festive household bubble with up to 8 others (not including children under 12) from up to 3 households. This means you can meet indoors.

If you choose to do this, we have some advice about how you can make it safer. Read our page on festive household bubbles if you're on the shielding list.

Going to work

You should continue to work from home if you can.

If you cannot work from home, you can go to your workplace if it's safe for you to do so. You do not need to get a return to work note from your GP or care provider.

When at work, you should follow physical distancing advice. If you cannot, your employer must put other measures in place to help keep you safe.

If you're worried about going to work, you should speak to your employer about your concerns. We have given guidance to employers in Scotland about keeping their employees safe. This includes what they need to do for those who are at higher risk from COVID-19.

Check your coronavirus risk at work

We've published information to help you check your coronavirus risk at work. It should not replace advice from a healthcare provider. It can be a starting point for you and your employer to discuss what your risk might be. It also suggests steps you can both take to keep you safe.

Some staff and employers will find this information useful, but there's no legal need for you to use it if you would prefer not to.

Use the Covid-age tool to assess your risk

The ALAMA Covid-age tool shows how certain health conditions can affect your risk from coronavirus, especially at work.

If you're in Levels 0-3 and not able to go to work

The risks to you and the kind of job you do might mean it's hard for you to work from your usual workplace. It's up to your employer and you to decide what's best if you're not able to go to work.

In some situations, employers may be able to offer you leave. This could be beyond the annual leave you're able to take as normal, known as your statutory leave entitlement.

If you're in Level 4 and can't go to work

If you're in a Level 4 area, the Chief Medical Officer will send you a letter which is similar to a fit note. It will last for as long as your area is under Level 4 restrictions. If it's not possible to make your workplace safe, you can use this letter as evidence that you cannot go to work.

If you get this letter, it does not automatically mean you should stay off work. You should first discuss making your workplace safer with your employer, so you can keep working.

Priority access to supermarket online delivery slots

People who were added to the shielding list before 1 August 2020 were offered priority access to online supermarket delivery slots. If you were added to the shielding list after that date, or did not sign up back then, you can do that now.

Once you register you will get priority access to see online delivery slots. It may take 2-3 weeks for you to get registered for the service. We cannot guarantee you'll always get your preferred slot, particularly during busy periods.

Sign up for priority online delivery slots

If you, your child or someone you care for is on the shielding list and you have not registered for priority access to online supermarket delivery slots, you can sign up now. Supermarkets offering this service are:

  • Asda
  • Tesco
  • Morrisons
  • Sainsbury's
  • Iceland
  • Waitrose

If you sign up for the service, the Scottish Government will pass your details to these supermarkets on a monthly basis. The next deadline is 10 December 2020.

If you have not registered for priority access to an online delivery slot before, you can register now. 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.

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, a friend or carer can call for you.

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 a reply, check that the email address you have registered with is still correct or check your junk mail folder.

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 and others 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 [add link to gov.scot]. This includes information about:

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:

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.

Advice about specific health conditions

Find advice about coronavirus and specific health conditions at gov.scot.

Mental health support

We recognise that the current situation is 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.

Remember FACTS to stay safe

To stay safe, it's important to always remember:

  • Face coverings in enclosed spaces
  • Avoid crowded places
  • Clean your hands and surfaces regularly
  • Two metre social distancing
  • Self-isolate and book a test if you develop coronavirus symptoms

You can check NHS Inform or call 111 to find out more about coronavirus symptoms and to book a test.

Support you'll carry on getting

Even though we're not asking you to shield right now we'll keep supporting people on the list.

You'll:

  • 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
  • have online access to up-to-date health guidance about your specific condition
  • 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)

Text message service

You should sign up to our text message service if you can. This means 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.

We'll never ask for your personal or banking details by text. If you receive a suspicious text message, you can report it by calling Police Scotland on 101.

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.

Crisis grants

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.

Getting around safely

You should take special care when trying to get to your destination.

Public transport

If you live in an area in protection level 3 or 4, avoid public transport unless it is absolutely necessary. Please walk, wheel and cycle when you can to save space on public transport for those who need it.

If you have to travel by public transport, be very careful about 2-metre distancing, wearing a face covering and cleaning your hands often.

Cars and taxis

In every protection level, 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 using a taxi you and the driver must wear a face covering. Find out who does not need to wear a face covering.

Tourism

If you have booked a holiday abroad during this period then you can still go. However, you should only travel and stay with people from your own or extended household group, and avoid non-essential unplanned visits.

Going to school

Children on the shielding list who live in an area in Level 4 should not generally go to school. But you should consult your child's secondary care (hospital) clinical team, who may suggest an individual risk assessment could be undertaken with the school, college or nursery. It may be possible to make arrangements that would let your child keep attending.

If you are a parent of a child on the shielding list in Level 4, we will send you a letter you can use as evidence that they can not go to school.

If you are the parent or guardian of a child on the shielding list who lives in Level 3, you may wish to discuss with their healthcare provider whether they should go to school.

All other children on the shielding list can go to school as usual, unless they have been advised not to by a healthcare provider. This includes children living in areas in Levels 0, 1, or 2.

We now know that children are at much lower risk of severe illness from coronavirus than adults. They are also less likely to pass on the virus to other people.

If you're worried about this, you can speak to your child's school or check Parent Club for advice.

Meeting others

Different protection levels have different rules about how many people you can meet indoors and outdoors. Find the guidance for your area's protection level on gov.scot.

Wearing face coverings

Even if you're wearing a face covering, you should try to maintain 2-metre distancing as much as you can.

You must wear a face covering when going inside cafes and restaurants and on public transport. Unless you have a health condition or disability that makes wearing one hard for you. You do not need proof of this.

Other people who do not need to wear a face covering include:

  • children under 5
  • people taking certain types of medication
  • people who are communicating with someone who lip reads

If outdoors, our advice is to maintain 2-metre distancing as much as you can. This is the best way to stay safe. If you do this, you do not need to wear a face covering outside.

If you think you may not be able to maintain physical distancing while outside, you may want to wear a face covering.

By face coverings, we do not mean the wearing of a surgical or other medical grade mask. It's a facial covering of your mouth and nose. This can be made of cloth or other textiles. For example a scarf, through which you can breathe.

Vitamin D

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.