Mother ‘petrified’ as new shielding guidance allows family to go out in Tier 4

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A mother-of-three who has been advised to shield has described feeling “petrified” as updated guidance states her children can still go out in Tier 4.

No help

Charlie Shore from Walton-on-Thames in Surrey, said she lives in fear every day and that the new guidance on shielding published on 21 December “doesn’t feel any different” to what clinically extremely vulnerable people have been doing since the summer.

Speaking to PA news agency, she said:

The guidance doesn’t help or hinder me. It just means again we are doing this without help from supermarket deliveries which we used to get during the first lockdown, so we risk either going without or entering crowded supermarkets.

The guidance states people who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but are not themselves, should still attend work and school.

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Shore, who is diagnosed with a pulmonary arteriovenous malformation which causes chronic respiratory problems, said she was “100% petrified” of schools being reopened. She said:

My relationship with my son is deteriorating due to my fears. I make him shower when he gets in from school which he hates, I’ve not touched him since September.

I avoid his proximity, it’s unbearable. I don’t see how he can go back to school and still live with me.

She said her children will spend Christmas with their father and she will be home alone. She said:

I would rather be by myself as I can then control my own environment. They were supposed to be here for Christmas but they are better off at their dad’s as am I in isolation.

Let down

Shore said she felt let down by the government and that her mental health has been adversely affected. She added:

Official shielding helped with food and medicine prescription deliveries, gave us a clear status and set of rules that everyone, including those not vulnerable, understood and respected. We felt better protected and it gave us clear leverage with employers.

What we have now is guidance, a clear statement that shielding is officially back in Tier 4 areas would help us all.

Clinically extremely vulnerable people in Tier 4 areas are being told not to go to work even if they are unable to work from home in new guidance published on shielding.

People across London, the South East, and the East of England received further guidance online on 21 December after the areas moved into Tier 4 restrictions over the weekend.

Those who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus, including people with specific cancers and severe respiratory conditions, are being urged to stay at home and only leave to exercise or attend health appointments.

Guidelines

People who cannot work from home are being told they should not attend work, while children on the shielded patient list should not attend school during term times.

They are advised to avoid all non-essential travel unless they are heading to hospital and GP appointments, and to avoid going into any shops and pharmacies.

A woman in London who has been diagnosed with lupus, who did not want to be named, said she was glad the guidance has been updated but felt she had been “forgotten” over the past couple of months.

Speaking to the PA news agency, she said:

I know that a lot of people who were told to shield felt this way. I live with my boyfriend and we are lucky enough to be able to keep distanced at home. Many others aren’t so lucky.

She described her plans for a “low-key” Christmas, adding:

I’m naturally quite a positive person so will get through this, and I have something to put this is perspective. When I first became very ill with lupus I was unable to walk for a while, I became housebound and in an enormous amount of pain.

When I was able to get about I wasn’t strong enough to pick up a kettle to make me a tea, now every time I start to feel a little down about shielding, I remind myself that I’ve been through worse and at least I can make a cuppa.

Delays

The updated guidance follows the same rules that were in place during the second national lockdown in England during November.

The government said those who are clinically extremely vulnerable but living in Tiers 1 to 3 should follow existing guidance, and that there is no formal shielding advice currently in place in areas outside of Tier 4.

Letters are being sent out to all those affected by the new rules later this week, although they will be delayed due to the Christmas period.

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