October 09, 2020
It’s been months of limbo for those who were previously shielding due to coronavirus, with many continuing to limit their contact with others, even after the official shielding period was paused. 
What You Need To Know About The Shielding Plans On The Table
But the clinically vulnerable could soon be told to stay home again, under plans being considered to reintroduce recommendations.
One plan on the table would see hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people living in Coronavirus hotspots being told to shield again this winter.
The plan differs from the original national shielding scheme, where 2.2 million people in England were advised to shield, before the scheme was “paused” at the end of July. Instead, the new proposals would only impact certain parts of the country. Related... We're Facing Down A Winter Of Covid-19. How Are You Feeling? The proposed plan comes after Professor John Edmunds, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said “we are not that far away from the health service being stretched” in hotspot areas, such as the North of England. 
A decision on shielding has not been finalised and may be delayed because of fears for the mental health of those facing months of isolation, according to The Times.
More than a third (35%) of those who were shielding in spring said the isolation had a negative impact on their mental health. Among shielders under the age of 50, this rose to almost half (46%). READ MORE: Herd Immunity Is Back On The Agenda – And Raising Big Questions Ministers are expected to outline a three-tier local lockdown system next week – also being called a “traffic light system”.
Areas with outbreaks would be classified as ‘tier one’ and would be subject to the tightest restrictions, while ‘tier two’ would have some restrictions, such as a ban on households mixing. ‘Tier three’ would refer to areas not subject to local lockdown measures. 
The new tier system may see those in vulnerable groups told to stay at home again for months, but it’s yet to be revealed if this would affect just ‘tier one’ areas, or larger parts of the country. 
Another idea floated by experts is that vulnerable people could form a ‘chain of trust’ with a select number of people to protect themselves against Covid-19. It  wouldn’t mean complete isolation, but those in the chain of trust would need to adopt measures in their lives to reduce their own risk of transmission. READ MORE: How A Three-Tier Lockdown System In England Could Work Before a chain can be effective, vulnerable people would need some questions answered, such as what happens if they can’t work from home, and people in their workplace are outside of their chain.
It’s because of this that some campaigners would welcome the reintroduction of an official shielding period. From August 1, clinically vulnerable people were no longer eligible for Statutory Sick Pay on the basis of being advised to shield by the government. This meant thousands were forced to return to work, despite fears for their health. 
An online petition calling for the government to reinstate shielding and provide better protection for those deemed clinically vulnerable has gained more than 2,500 signatures. Many of those shielding in spring have not returned to normal life, sparking the hashtags #StillShielding and #ForgottenShielders. 
A formal announcement on new measures is not likely to come until Monday, according to BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg.READ MORE: Why Are Covid-19 Cases High, But Deaths Remain Quite Low? 101 Joyful Things To Do While Self-Isolating Here’s How To Cope With Lockdown Déjà Vu
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