Setting out the next steps for the 2.2 million people who were asked to shield, the Government is now allowing them to regain a degree of normality to their daily lives.
Scientific evidence is showing that the chances of encountering coronavirus in the community continues to decline but the Government will continue with their unprecedented package of support for shielding people until the end of July allowing for people to adjust to the changes.
From Monday 6 July those shielding can gather in groups of up to 6 people outdoors, including those outside of their household while maintaining social distancing.
People who are shielding because they live alone or are single parents with children can form a 'support bubble' with another household. This means you can visit them and they can visit you, this includes entering your home.
From Saturday Aug 1 the guidance will then be relaxed so shielding people will no longer be advised to shield but support will remain in place from the NHS volunteers and local councils. People will retain their priority placement for supermarket delivery slots and still be able to access help with shopping, medication and transport to medical appointments.
In addition those who need to work and cannot do so from home will be able to return to work, providing their work place is Covid secure and adhering to the guidance available.
So while things are still a little different, these changes should allow the shielded to feel less isolated and slowly move back to a sense of normality.
If at any point you experience symptoms, even if weak - book a test, just to be sure. They're free and can be done at home if necessary.
We have also launched a pilot test for a new Covid19 saliva test in Southampton. This will make it easier for people to get tested for Covid19, over 14,000 GP staff, other essential key workers and university staff and their households will participate in the first trial on a weekly basis. It is hoped the testing will help us identify Covid19 quickly and early, including for those with no or minor symptoms. If successful the testing will be rolled out more widely with the option of a home-based test for those who need it.