Coronavirus - support if you're on the shielding list

Last updated: 20 January 2021

Coronavirus vaccine

We aim to have given everyone one the shielding list their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine by mid-February 2021. We are offering people the vaccine based on their risk of becoming seriously ill if they catch coronavirus. If you're 75 or over you will be contacted soon, if you have not already been.

NHS inform has more information about who will be offered the vaccine first. 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.

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).

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. That's because while the vaccine will help prevent you from becoming seriously ill from coronavirus, we do not yet know if it will keep you from catching (and spreading) the virus. We'll let you know if this advice changes.

Lockdown restrictions from 5 January 2021

To help protect you from the new strain of coronavirus, lockdown measures were introduced across Scotland from midnight on 5 January. These measures are currently in place until at least the middle of February, but this will be reviewed on 2 February. You should follow the same advice as the rest of the population. In addition, we are strongly recommending that people on the shielding list do NOT go to work if you can't work from home.

Barra and Vatersay are in lockdown from 20 January 2021

Barra and Vatersay moved up to Protection Level 4 from 20 January 2021. This means the same lockdown restrictions that in place in mainland Scotland apply.

The other Western Isles remain at Level 3.

Islands remaining at Level 3

Some islands are remaining at Level 3, not going into lockdown. These are:

  • Orkney
  • Shetland
  • Na h-Eileanan Siar (Western Isles), except Barra and Vatersay
  • the following islands within Argyll and Bute: Coll, Colonsay, Erraid, Gometra, Iona, Islay, Jura, Mull, Oronsay, Tiree, and Ulva
  • all islands in Highland, except Skye

If you are in one of these areas, you should follow the Level 3 guidance for the general population.

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.

Advice for people on the shielding list in lockdown

The Chief Medical Officer is writing to everyone on the shielding list during the week beginning 4 January to set out our advice.

We're not advising you to stop going outside, which we know is good for mental and physical health. You should stay at home as much as possible but you can still go out for exercise and essential shopping or medicines.

Working in lockdown

You should continue to work from home if you can.

If you cannot work from home, if you live or work in an area in lockdown, you should not go to work. The letter you will receive from the Chief Medical Officer acts as a fit note for as long as lockdown restrictions are in place.

This letter is called a shielding notification and can be shown to your employer without the need for a GP fit note.

Financial help if you cannot work from home

If you cannot work from home, your employer may be able to furlough you through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This is at your employer's discretion. The scheme will continue until April 2021. If your employer furloughs you, you will stay off work but get up to 80% of your normal salary. Your employer will also keep paying your National Insurance and pension contributions.

If you are not furloughed, you may be able to get Statutory Sick Pay (at your employer's discretion), Universal Credit, or other benefits. To find out what benefits you can get, speak to your employer, visit GOV.UK, or contact Citizens Advice Scotland.

Some employers may offer other financial support if you can't work from home, so you should also ask your employer about this.

Financial help if you are self-employed and cannot work from home

The Job Retention Scheme (furlough) does not cover you if you are self-employed. Instead, find out if you can get support from the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme at GOV.UK.

Working if you've been vaccinated

You should follow all advice for those on the shielding list, even if you have had a coronavirus vaccination. This includes the advice about work. While the vaccine will help prevent you from becoming seriously ill from coronavirus, we do not yet know if it will keep you from catching (and spreading) the virus.

If you are 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.

Attending medical appointments in lockdown

You should attend any medical appointments as usual during lockdown.

Informal childcare during lockdown

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.

Updating your address or phone number on the shielding list

If you have changed address or phone number since being added to the shielding list, contact your GP practice and ask them to update the details they hold for you. Your details will then be updated on the shielding list too.

If your GP practice has updated your details but your shielding letters or texts are still being sent to the wrong place, email phs.healthdata@phs.scot. Use the subject line 'Change to shielding list details'. Include your full name, CHI number and new address or phone number.

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:

  • 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.

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 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).

Protection Levels in Scotland

There are 5 protection levels across different areas of Scotland. There are different restrictions and advice for each level. The new lockdown restrictions are in addition to the guidance for Level 4.

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. Your clinician or healthcare provider may also give you specific, personalised advice, because of a certain health condition or treatment.

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.

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)

Sign up for our 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.

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.

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.

Self-isolation grants

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.

Getting around safely

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

Public transport

Avoid public transport including taxis. Please walk, wheel and cycle instead.

Cars and taxis

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.

Going to school

Most school pupils will learn remotely– rather than in school – until at least the 1 February. This change will apply to all pupils, except vulnerable children, and children of key workers. And it includes nursery schools, as well as primary and secondary schools.

Our advice at Level 4 and under lockdown is that children who are on the shielding list should not attend childcare, school or college in person.

Meeting others

The rules for meeting people inside and outside are different during lockdown. Have a look at the guidance 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.