People who have had to shield from the coronavirus have been told to follow the regular restrictions, but many do not feel safe to return to work.
Over 3.7 million people within both England and Wales have been told that they no longer need to shield from the coronavirus after today.
People who are extremely clinically vulnerable, including those cancer patients who are having chemotherapy and stem cell transplant recipients, should now be following the same rules as the rest of the country’s population.
A letter that was sent to the group said that shielding has been paused due to falling coronavirus infection rates, but it still urged the most vulnerable people to keep social contact to a minimum and to keep at a distance from other people.
This comes after roughly half all people in the UK now have antibodies against Covid, either through infection or vaccination, says the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Most of this will be through vaccination, with 30 million people in the UK having received at least a single dose of one of the COVID-19 vaccines.
Those on the shielding list should be working from home where possible but bus driver Matt Hemming, who is a kidney transplant recipient on the shielding list, is now worried about having to return too soon.
Mr Hemming said that he didn’t understand why coronavirus shielding has to “end overnight”, and thought that the transition should be “drawn out with more precautions”.
He said: “I don’t yet have a date for my second vaccine and my consultant has advised me not to return to work until at least three weeks after I’ve had my second jab.”
Research from Scope, a national disability charity, suggests that 75% of disabled people plan to continue shielding from the coronavirus until after they receive their second dose of a vaccine.
Louise Rubin, who is the head of policy and campaigns at Scope, has said that many disabled people would be “filled with anxiety” about “being forced into a choice between their health and their finances”.
This comes after people are now permitted to be meeting in groups of up to six people, or as two households, and outdoor team sports are also allowed to restart in a major easing of the lockdown restrictions in England.
Another charity warned that UK employers must “make adjustments” for the clinically vulnerable after their shielding ends.
Sara Bainbridge, the Macmillan Cancer Support policy officer has said: “It doesn’t need to change immediately.
“Employers need to take into account that this is a difficult situation for someone who might not have been in the workplace for a long time. We know there are options and adjustments that can be made safely.”