Coronavirus (COVID-19):  pausing of shielding for extremely vulnerable people

Since 31 July, shielding for extremely vulnerable people has been paused. This page outlines what these changes mean for people who had been shielding.

Shielding guidance update

The COVID-19 virus still poses a high risk if someone who was shielding is exposed to it.  However, the rate of community transmission has now dropped to a level that means that the risk of catching COVID-19 has significantly reduced.

As the risk is lower, and considering the most recent scientific advice, the Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland has updated the guidance for those who were shielding.

Since 31 July there is no need for anyone who is extremely vulnerable to have to shield to manage the risk. Further letters were issued to all those who had been advised to shield, with details of the change and ways to continue to get the help you need.

There is information below on what these changes mean for you.

Shielding in the future

Shielding has now been paused. Pausing, rather than stopping shielding is just a precaution and there are no plans for it to restart at the moment. The pause is indefinite, but it remains possible that it will need to reactivate the guidance if the risk increases in the future. 

Shielding and safety concerns

It is impossible to guarantee safety in any walk of life. However, the level of risk in the community is now considered to be low. It is no longer necessary for anyone who is in the extremely vulnerable category to have to shield.

What to do if your workplace does not practice social distancing

Employers have a 'duty of care' for staff, customers and anyone else who visits the workplace. In practice, this means taking all steps they reasonably can to support the health, safety and wellbeing of their staff. 

Where vulnerable staff cannot follow guidance on social distancing at work or during travel to work, they should tell their employer they need to follow government advice and avoid these risks.

Information about child care arrangements

Information for people who are returning to work and are experiencing issues with child care is available at the following link:

Guidance over maintaining social distancing

For now, people who have been advised to shield should still maintain strict social distancing.  This includes family members. 

The position will be kept under review in line with the on-going assessment of the likelihood of catching the virus.  

Support after the ending of shielding

It is understood some people are anxious that shielding has been paused.  If you have any concerns about your health or mental wellbeing, you should speak to your GP. 

There are a range of supports that are available for people now that shielding has been paused.  Details of these supports were contained in the letters that were issued to those who were shielding. 

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

In addition, tailored information and self-help guides from local mental health and wellbeing charities are available at the Covid-19 Virtual Wellbeing Hub

These resources are designed to help promote positive mental health and wellbeing both during and after the Covid 19 Pandemic.

If you would like to speak to someone, you can still contact your GP, or if you are 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.’

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

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