From today, thousands of residents in Torbay who have been shielding for the past 12 weeks as they have been identified by the NHS as ‘extremely vulnerable’ will be able to have more freedom.

All the residents are being contacted directly by the NHS and for the first time since the lockdown started in March they will be able to meet up with others outdoors, will no longer need to observe social distancing with other members of their household, and will also be able to form ‘support bubbles’ for the first time.

Torbay’s Shielding Hub – a joint initiative between us, Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, and the local voluntary sector, now has more than 6,000 vulnerable people on its database and has been supporting these people with a range of health advice, food parcels and other support.

Councillor Jackie Stockman, Cabinet Member for Adults and Public Health, said: “Those who have been shielding and classed as extremely vulnerable have faced the biggest restrictions on their freedom and have had to make the most sacrifices during this extremely difficult period.

“While we are pleased that enough progress has been made to enable this group of people to be able to move into the next phase, it is still very important that everyone remembers to stay safe and follow government guidance, and this is particularly important for those people who have been identified as extremely vulnerable.”

The main changes for those shielding from Monday are:

  • you may, if you wish, meet in a group of up to 6 people outdoors, including people from different households, while maintaining strict social distancing
  • you no longer need to observe social distancing with other members of your household
  • in line with the wider guidance for single adult households (either an adult living alone or with dependent children under 18) in the general population, you may from this date, if you wish, also form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household. All those in a support bubble will be able to spend time together inside each other’s homes, including overnight, without needing to socially distance

Find out more on the government website.

This is ahead of further changes planned for August when the current plan is for shielding to be paused.

Since the Shielding Hub launched at the end of March, they have made more than 16,000 calls and have around 6,750 vulnerable people on the database. They have delivered more than 800 food parcels. 

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