New coronavirus restrictions across the UK

02 November 2020

New coronavirus restrictions are in place in all four UK nations.

You are required to follow the restrictions in place for the general population in your nation. But all additional guidance for people at high risk is advisory only - meaning you can choose to only follow the guidance for the general population if you wish.

We know that this can be a challenging time for those living with Crohn's or Colitis. Remember, we're here for you - see what Wellbeing Support we have available. 

Not everyone with Crohn's or Colitis is in the high risk group
Your risk level can change depending on if you're in a flare and how long you've been on your medication. Remember to check your risk level. If you are not in the high risk group, you can follow your nation's advice for the general population. 

England

New national restrictions came into effect on Thursday 5 November, which state that people at high risk should stay home as much as possible, and not go to work. If you can't work from home, you may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA), and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) has also been extended to support you, if you are eligible. Unlike when shielding was in place, you don't need to distance from the people you live with, and you are encouraged to go outside for exercise. You shouldn't go out shopping for food or medicines - instead do this online or ask someone else to do this for you.

Some people have received emails from the government explaining what the new national restrictions mean for people at higher risk from coronavirus. Remember that your risk level can change - the best way to find out if the information you've been sent is right for you is to check your risk level on our website - our information is specific to people with Crohn's and Colitis. If government algorithms previously classed you as clinically extremely vulnerable, you may still get a letter, even if specialist guidance advises that you are not at high risk. If you feel that you are at high risk of complications but have not received a government letter, contact your healthcare professional and ask if they can add you to the Shielded Patients List. 

After the restrictions are set to end on Wednesday 2 December, you should follow the general advice regarding the three tier system of medium, high or very high alert restrictions. The government is not recommending that people at high risk shield, even if you live in an area with local restrictions, unless you receive a letter separately informing you to do so. The government have stated they will only reintroduce formal shielding advice in the very worst affected local areas and for a limited period of time.

Wales

A 'firebreak' lockdown was introduced across Wales from 6pm Friday 23 October until the start of Monday 9 November 2020 to help regain control of coronavirus. The government is not recommending that people at high risk shield, as the series of restrictive measures being put in place will help protect the most vulnerable. You are therefore able to follow the advice for the general population. 

Scotland

On Monday 2 November Scotland introduced a new tier system of local coronavirus restrictions, called the Strategic Framework. This includes new guidance for people who are at high risk of serious complications from coronavirus (people who were previously advised to shield).

Each local area has been given a level from 0-4. Level 0 areas have the lowest levels of coronavirus in the community and level 4 the highest. Level 4 areas will have the most restrictions in place to help reduce the spread of the virus.

Shielding is not being re-introduced nationally across Scotland - and you can be in close contact with the people in your household and exercise outdoors at all local levels. However, there are some specific precautions that people at high risk are advised to take depending on your local level. To provide interim protection to those on the shielding list in Level 4 areas who can't work from home, the Chief Medical Officer will issue an automatic two week fit note to give you time to speak to your GP or consultant to get a personal fit note if necessary.

Northern Ireland

Regulations on limiting mixing between households were introduced on 16 October 2020 and will be in place for four weeks. Shielding is not being resumed, but people at high risk are asked to be particularly careful in following the advice on limiting household contacts, social distancing, hand washing and wearing a face covering.

All nations

Although the national shielding programme has paused, your IBD team may still advise you to shield in individual circumstances, such as if you have upcoming surgery or have just started taking steroids. Follow the advice of your IBD team if they tell you to shield. If you live in a very high local COVID alert area (England only), you may also receive a letter from the government recommending you shield for a limited time.

In the rare circumstance that you are advised to shield, you should try to only leave your home in order to attend medical appointments, and avoid contact with people who you don't live with. Check the letter you received, or with your IBD team, to see what you are able to do. 

Even if you do not currently need to shield, you should still follow restrictions for your local area and practice social distancing and good hand washing hygiene. Find your local council and check local restrictions at: gov.uk/find-local-council

For more on what the new rules mean for people on the shielding list, read our detailed guidance.