Following the announcement of new local coronavirus (COVID-19) alert levels, the Government has updated the shielding guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.

In an attempt to reduce the potentially harmful impacts on mental and social wellbeing that were associated with previous shielding restrictions, the new guidance sets out practical steps that individuals can take to protect themselves at each COVID-19 alert level.

The Government has indicated that they may advise more restrictive shielding measures in due course in the worst affected areas with a very high COVID-19 alert level based on advice from the Chief Medical Officer. The Government will write separately to individuals to inform them of any further shielding restrictions they should take.

Employers should be aware that the updated guidance advises clinically extremely vulnerable individuals in most areas to work from home where possible but if they cannot work from home to go to work. As previously reported employers are required to take steps to make the workplace 'COVID secure' and should be able to explain to clinically extremely vulnerable employees the measures they have put in place to keep them safe at work. Employers should remain flexible and open to discuss temporary role changes or work patterns with clinically extremely vulnerable employees as COVID-19 infection rates rise over the winter.

If clinically extremely vulnerable individuals in the worst affected areas with a very high COVID-19 alert level receive a letter from the Government advising them to take more restrictive shielding they are strongly advised to work from home. If they cannot work from home they should not attend work and they may be eligible for statutory sick pay.

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