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Advice for people at high risk from coronavirus (shielding)

Advice about how you can reduce your risk of getting coronavirus (COVID-19) if you're at high risk of getting seriously ill (clinically extremely vulnerable).

If you're at high risk (clinically extremely vulnerable) from coronavirus (COVID-19), there are things you can do to help keep yourself safe.

There is some general advice for everyone at high risk, as well as extra advice depending on where you live.

In places where there is a very high risk from coronavirus, you may get a letter advising you to follow stricter advice. This is called shielding. You only need to shield if you get a letter.


This advice is for people who have received a letter from the NHS or their GP saying they're at high risk from coronavirus.

If you're not sure if you're at high risk, see who's at higher risk from coronavirus.


You should work from home if possible. Your employer should support you to do this.

If you cannot work from home and you're concerned about having to go to work, talk to your employer. Employers should make sure suitable arrangements are in place so you can go to work.

You're only advised not to go to work if you get a letter advising you to shield.

Get a shielding note if you cannot work

If you're unable to work because you work in an area where shielding advice is in place, you may be able to get a shielding note to give to your employer.

You can use this note to claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).


More information and advice about work:

You can also get advice from Acas. Call the Acas helpline on 0300 123 1100 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm).

School, college and university

Everyone should continue to go to school, college or university.

Children should only stay off school if:

  • they have been advised to by a doctor – this only applies to a small number of children
  • you get a letter advising your child to shield

Food, medicines and shopping

To reduce your risk from coronavirus, you may want to:

  • do your shopping online
  • ask family or friends to collect shopping for you
  • avoid busy times if you go shopping

You can also get help with food and medicine deliveries from an NHS volunteer. Call 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm) to get help from NHS Volunteer Responders.

Social distancing

How many people you can meet and where you can meet them depends on the rules in your area.

You should always follow general social distancing advice.


  • try to stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from anyone you do not live with (or anyone not in your support bubble)

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds

  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available

  • wash your hands as soon as you get home

  • wear something that covers your nose and mouth in places where it's hard to stay away from other people, such as on public transport, in shops and in hospitals


  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

  • do not touch things that people you do not live with have touched, including food and drinks

Support bubbles

If you live alone or you're a single parent who lives only with your children, you can meet with 1 other household without staying 2 metres away from them. This is called a support bubble.

Find out more about making a support bubble with another household on GOV.UK.

Medical help and appointments

It can be hard to know what to do if you're unwell or need to use the NHS.

It's important to:

  • get medical help if you think you need it
  • keep any appointments or procedures you have booked – unless you're told not to go
  • go to hospital if you’re advised to

NHS services have made changes to make sure it's safe for you to be seen during coronavirus. There are also ways to get medical help and prescriptions online or over the phone.

Find out more about using the NHS during coronavirus.


More advice for your area

Depending on where you live, there may be extra things you're advised to do to reduce your risk from coronavirus.

The advice is based on the level of risk in your area. This is known as the local COVID alert level.

For more information, see guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from coronavirus on GOV.UK.

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