Coronavirus - support if you're on the shielding list

Last updated: 17 September 2020
Find out more about the latest local restrictions. There has been an increase in the numbers of coronavirus cases in some areas of Scotland. We are advising people living in these areas to keep themselves safe by being extra careful. We are not asking people to start shielding again.

We are keeping our advice under constant review and will make changes to our advice if we need to.

Recent updates

Shielding is currently paused. This is because the rate of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Scotland is low enough for you not to need to shield.

To help you work out how you can lower your risk of catching coronavirus during normal, daily life, we have published some advice and tips.

You can use Public Health Scotland's dashboard to stay up to date. 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 council or health board area by filtering the dashboard's data

We're working hard to create a tool that will help you access data about infection rates in your area. We will update you on this soon.

The Scottish Government also publishes a 'modelling the epidemic' report each week. The first page of these reports contains a summary of the report's key points. This includes current estimates of the R number in Scotland and the growth rate of infections.


To stay safe, you should also:

  • keep 2 metres away from people you do not live with
  • regularly wash your hands for at least 20 seconds
  • stay at home if you, or a member of your household, have 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 the COVID-19 infection rate is low in Scotland, we know that you may have mixed feelings about stopping shielding.

This is why we're keeping lots of shielding support open. We're also creating new ways to support you. 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
  • still 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

If you have not already, you should sign up for our text message service. This will mean that you receive updates direct to your mobile phone. To sign up, send your Community Health Index (CHI) number to 0786 006 4525. You can find your CHI number in the letters you've had from the Scottish Government.

If the infection rate in Scotland goes up

The infection rate in Scotland may rise as well as fall in the coming months. Small changes will not affect our advice. At the moment, there is no need for you to start shielding during these outbreaks. This is because we are taking quick action to manage these, contain the spread of the virus and keep you safe.

We may ask you to take extra steps to stay safe if there is an increase in infections rates that gives us concern. If we need to update you about this, we'll contact you by letter and through our text messaging service.

Mental health resources

We recognise that stopping shielding may be stressful. If you need mental health support, visit gov.scot for mental health advice and resources.

Going back to work

Our advice is that you should carry on working from home, if you can.

If you cannot work from home, you can return to a workplace if it is 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.

Tool to help check your coronavirus risk at work

The Scottish Government has published a tool to help you check your coronavirus risk at work. The tool 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 tool may be most useful to you if you have been shielding and are thinking about returning to work, but anyone can use it.

Find the tool and guidance around using it here:

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

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

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 a 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

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.

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.

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. 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 distant outdoor exercise classes
  • going swimming

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 people outdoors
  • forming an 'extended household group' (meaning you can visit each other without physical distancing)

Higher risk:

  • meeting people indoors
  • physical contact with people you do not live with

To stay safe, try to:

  • make sure everyone washes their hands on arrival, often during the visit and again when they get home
  • avoid touching hard surfaces with your hands – such as door handles and gates
  • sit away from those you do not live with
  • if indoors, open windows to let in fresh air
  • if outdoors, choose times and areas that are quiet

Low risk:

  • going to an outdoor market
  • going to the shops
  • 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 time to avoid queues
  • 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:

  • going in someone else's car
  • 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

Low risk:

  • picnic outside with others
  • sitting outside a café, restaurant or pub

Higher risk:

  • having people over for a meal
  • sitting inside a café, restaurant or pub

To stay safe, try to:

  • choose quieter times or sitting in quiet areas
  • avoid going inside if you can
  • sit facing away from people outwith your group
  • use a hand sanitiser or wash your hands before and after eating
  • use contactless payment if possible

Wearing face coverings

Even if you're wearing a face covering, you should try to maintain physical 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 physical 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. 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

Taking a daily vitamin D supplement can improve your bone and muscle health. during the autumn and winter months when we are unable to make vitamin D from sunlight. Find out more about vitamin D supplements on gov.scot.