Coronavirus - support if you're on the shielding list

Last updated: 23 October 2020

Changes to restrictions in Scotland from 23 October

The restrictions that were announced across Scotland on 9 October 2020 have been extended until 2 November 2020.

From 2 November 2020, there will be 5 new protection levels across different areas of Scotland. You can find out more about what these protection levels will mean for you at gov.scot.

These measures aim to control the rise of coronavirus cases and help keep people safe.

We're not asking you to start shielding again, but your GP or healthcare provider may recommend you to follow specific, personalised advice, because of a certain health condition or treatment.

Find out what the current restrictions are in your area and what we're advising that you can and cannot do.

You should follow the same guidelines as everyone else in Scotland but take extra care, and think about reducing the number of people you are in contact with.

You can continue going to shops and meeting others, but you might want to consider doing less of this, if you feel that is right for you.

Check COVID-19 infection rates in your neighbourhood

You can now access 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.

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 our helpline on 0800 111 4000, if you need help from your local council

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.

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.

Mental health resources

We recognise that the current situation can be stressful. If you need mental health support, visit gov.scot for mental health advice and resources.

Going back to work

You should continue to work from home if you can.

If you cannot work from home, you can return to a 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 to go back.

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 back 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 clinician or occupational health specialist. 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.

The information may be most useful to you if you have been shielding and are thinking about returning to work, but anyone can use it.

Find easy-read versions of the information and guidance (with images and less text) on gov.scot.

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.

Find further information and an interactive risk calculator at the ALAMA website.

If you're not able to go back to work

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

  • 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 were furloughed for at least a 3-week period before 30 June, your employer may be able to apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Under this scheme you can be furloughed and receive 80% of your regular wages, up to a cap of £2,500. The Scheme runs until the end of October
  • you can also discuss your fitness for work with your GP or specialist care provider, who may be able to offer further advice
  • from 1 November there will be a new Job Support Scheme available

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. We ask those living in the central belt not to travel outside the area they live in, unless they need to.

People in other parts of Scotland should also not travel to the central belt unless they need to.

Public transport

We're asking people living in the central belt to 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 travel

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.

You can read more about travel during coronavirus here.

Tourism

If you have booked a holiday 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

All children who are on the shielding list can go to school, unless they have been given advice from a GP or healthcare provider not to.

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.

Grandchildren and family

You must not meet other households (including children) indoors. This is unless it's:

  • your extended household
  • for childcare reasons
  • someone working in your home such as a carer or tradesperson

There are different rules for meeting outdoors and in public places.

Risk levels of common daily activities if you've been shielding

Here's a quick guide to the coronavirus risk involved in some everyday activities (excluding areas where local restrictions are in place). This can help you make informed choices based on your own circumstances. It will also help you minimise your risk.

Find more information about staying safe during daily activities on gov.scot.

Low risk:

  • outdoor non-contact activities, such as running and physically distanced outdoor exercise classes

Higher risk:

  • outdoor contact sports
  • indoor non-contact activities, such as going to the gym

Low risk:

  • getting personal care at home
  • seeing your GP or clinician
  • going to a pharmacy

Higher risk:

  • providing care for others
  • visiting a day centre
  • sitting in a busy waiting room, for example at a walk-in clinic

Low risk:

  • meeting one other household outdoors and keeping 2 metres apart
  • forming an 'extended household group' (meaning you can visit each other without physical distancing)
  • picnic outside with one other household while physical distancing
  • sitting outside a café, restaurant or pub (max 6 people from 2 households)

Higher risk:

  • meeting inside a café, restaurant or pub

To stay safe, try to:

  • avoid touching hard surfaces such as door handles and gates with your hands
  • sit away from those you do not live with
  • choose times and areas that are quiet
  • avoid going inside if you can
  • use a hand sanitiser or wash your hands before and after eating
  • use contactless payment if possible

Low risk:

  • grocery shopping during quiet times
  • going to an outdoor market and maintaining physical distance
  • getting your hair cut

Higher risk:

  • going to a museum
  • going to a busy beach
  • going to the cinema

To stay safe, try to:

  • choose quieter times
  • avoid opening and closing doors with your hands
  • avoid going into 1 metre zones (areas where people only need to stay 1 metre apart)
  • reduce the number of trips by doing one big shop
  • put on your face covering before touching a trolley or basket
  • use contactless payment if possible

Low risk:

  • paying for petrol at the pump
  • staying in self-catering accommodation
  • travelling outwith your local area

Higher risk:

  • staying at a hotel
  • travelling by bus or train

To stay safe, try to:

  • avoid travelling at peak times when it will be busy
  • book tickets in advance if you can
  • put on your face covering before getting on public transport
  • avoid touching any handle rails or wiping them before use
  • open the windows near you
  • wash your hands as soon as you can once you get to your destination

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.

Buying food and the things you need

You can now choose to visit shops and supermarkets yourself. Supermarkets and shops have put in many protective measures to help keep you and others safe. If you do, you must wear a face covering, unless you have a reason not to, and follow physical distancing advice.

Deliveries of weekly grocery boxes stopped at the end of July. This is because you can buy the things you need either by going into shops or by ordering online.

You'll still have priority access to online supermarket delivery slots if you had signed up before 1 August. This means you should be able to book an online delivery slot even if it gets busy. We cannot guarantee you'll always get your preferred slot.

Gift card schemes

You're now also able to join card schemes with major supermarkets. These card schemes allow you to add credit onto a supermarket card. The supermarket can post the card to a member of your family, or a friend. They can then use the card to buy your shopping in-store.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for keeping your bones and muscles healthy. Sunlight is our main source of vitamin D. The amount of sun needed varies from person to person.

Around 10 to 15 minutes of unprotected Scottish sun exposure is safe. This is one of the many benefits of getting outdoors if you can. Remember to use sunscreen to protect your skin if you're staying in the sun for longer than 15 minutes.

We recommend that everyone should take 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.

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.