Coronavirus (COVID-19):  guidance for ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ and ‘vulnerable’ people

Everyone in Northern Ireland, regardless of clinical vulnerability, needs to comply with current coronavirus restrictions. However, if you’re ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ or ‘vulnerable’ you’re advised to take extra precautions.

Shielding

Advice for people who are ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ (CEV) is kept under continual review in line with the wider review of restrictions by the Northern Ireland Executive.

From 30 April, restrictions have been eased across a range of settings including socialising in gardens, overnight stays in self-contained accommodation, retail, gyms and indoor leisure facilities, and hospitality.

Full details of the current restrictions are available at:

If you are CEV, it is important to remember that, whilst the rates of virus activity are currently relatively low, the virus is still circulating in our communities. The easing of restrictions will likely also see an increase in rates of virus activity.

For that reason, while you can take part in the gradual re-opening of society, it is vitally important that you continue to exercise great care.

Shops, cafes, restaurants and other hospitality settings are likely to be busy. If possible, try to go at quieter times and adhere rigidly to the safety guidance when you do:

  • stick to social distancing guidelines
  • use your face covering at all times unless you are exempt
  • try to spend as little time as possible in an indoor setting, where ventilation is likely to be less good

If you feel uneasy about the easing of restrictions, you can continue to ask friends, family or volunteers to collect shopping and medicines for you.

Work

From 12 April, if you are CEV you should work from home where this is possible.

If it is not possible, you can attend your workplace, provided your employer has taken the proper measures to ensure social distancing in your place of work, and you can travel to work in a way which allows for social distancing.

All employers have a 'duty of care' for staff and, in practice, this means taking all steps they reasonably can to support the health, safety and wellbeing of their staff.

This change in advice will be subject to ongoing review of the status of the virus in Northern Ireland.

Information and advice for employers and employees on COVID-19 and working safely across a range of workplace settings is available on the nibusinessinfo website.

If you have any concerns about your safety in the workplace, you are encouraged to discuss these with your employer or human resources department.

They will be best placed to advise on appropriate measures for your particular role and workplace at this time, including, for example, if there might be scope to re-design your role, change your working pattern or location, or reduce contact with others.

If you have concerns about social distancing in your workplace, or require further information, you can visit the Health and Safety Executive (HSENI)’s website or call 0800 0320 121 to speak to someone about it.

Where you find that you have a disagreement with your employer, which you are unable to resolve, you should consider contacting the Labour Relations Agency (LRA).

In addition, the Law Centre NI provides free, independent, specialist legal advice on employment rights and has established a dedicated COVID-19 response team for COVID-19 related employment rights matters.

Keeping Safe

If you're ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ or ‘vulnerable’ it's important to continue to be particularly careful in following the advice to:

In terms of what is best for you as an individual, you should assess the risk in light of the above and take advice from your GP, clinician/specialist Consultant as necessary.

Travel

If you need to travel, walk or cycle if you can. For longer journeys, or if you are unable to walk or cycle, try to minimise the number of people you come into close contact with.

Avoid public transport as much as possible or consider travelling outside peak hours to reduce the number of people with whom you come into contact.  If you need to use public transport, you must wear a face covering unless you are exempt and wash your hands after touching shared hard surfaces. 

Travelling by car is likely to mean fewer social contacts than travelling by public transport. You should avoid sharing a car with people outside of your immediate household or support bubble.

School

Pupils previously shielding or with a family member who was previously shielding due to being identified as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ can continue to go to school. 

This is also the case for those who are ‘vulnerable’ to COVID-19.  If you have concerns about this, you may wish to speak with your GP or hospital consultant.  Their advice can be shared with the school if you wish.  The school can then determine if it needs to take any additional actions to reduce the risk further.

A small number of children will be advised by their clinical team not to attend an educational setting. The vast majority of these children would routinely be advised not to attend school even outside pandemic period due to the risk of infections other than COVID-19.

Further guidance is available in the Department of Educations' guidance for education settings.  Sections 6 and 7 of the guidance includes information on supporting clinically extremely vulnerable staff and children in the school setting. 

Care support

 If you're receiving domiciliary care or those living in nursing and residential care homes. Guidance for these settings is available from the Public Health Agency website.

If you are worried about your health and social care during COVID-19, the Patient and Client Council offer a Freephone support service, supporting you with any questions, concerns or complaints you may have.

Advisors will be able to help you to navigate your care should it be affected by the new pressures being faced by the Health Service during COVID-19.

Contact details are below:

For more information about this service visit the Patient Client Council website

Mental Health Support

This is a difficult time for many people and may be particularly worrying for those who have an underlying condition which means they are more clinically vulnerable to COVID-19.

If you are finding things difficult, there are a range of supports available which can help. These resources are designed to help promote positive mental health and wellbeing both during and after the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The Minding Your Head contains information to help you look after your own mental health and to support others. 

Tailored information and self-help guides from local mental health and wellbeing charities are available at the COVID-19 Virtual Wellbeing Hub.

If you've concerns about your health or mental wellbeing, you should speak to your GP.

If you're in distress or despair, you can call Lifeline  on 0808 808 8000 where you can speak to a trained counsellor.  This service is available 24/7 and is free from all NI landlines and mobiles.

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has published a leaflet 'Take 5 steps to wellbeing’ which offers tips on supporting your mental and emotional wellbeing while staying at home during the current COVID-19 outbreak.

It sets out a practical framework around five steps:

  • connect
  • learn
  • be active
  • take notice
  • give

Loneliness and Isolation

Feeling lonely or disconnected is a natural reaction to the current coronavirus pandemic, and it’s important that you don’t blame yourself for feelings of loneliness, at this or any other time.

Advice – Let's Talk Loneliness provides practical advice on how to help others or yourself if you are feeling lonely.

If you feel unable to take these steps, you can also contact one of the helplines.

You can read guidance on looking after your mental health and wellbeing during this time on the COVID Wellbeing NI website.

Find resources to develop skills to cope with loneliness on the British Red Cross website along with the latest government advice on COVID-19.

COVID-19 Community Helpline

A freephone helpline is available to help those in vulnerable groups to access information, advice and support in relation to COVID-19.  The helpline is local to Northern Ireland, and is managed by Advice NI.

  • freephone number:  0808 802 0020

You can also get in touch by email and text message or webform:

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email:
rating@lpsni.gov.uk

For queries or advice about property valuation, email:
valuation@lpsni.gov.uk

For queries or advice about land registry, email:
CustomerInformation.LandRegistration@finance-ni.gov.uk

For mapping queries, email:
Mapping.Helpdesk@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for in the Coronavirus (COVID-19) section, then for queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.