Supermarket priority delivery slots to end in June as COVID-19 cases continue to fall

Supermarkets 'must protect their customers' says Malthouse

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Priority delivery slots for the most clinically vulnerable people in the country will no longer be available after June 21. In line with the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, restrictions will have already begun to ease by that date.

This news comes after the Government announced yesterday that the most clinically vulnerable people in England will be free to live their lives alongside the rest of the population from April 1.

There are more than 3.79 million people in England who have been under the most severe COVID restrictions for months due to them being extremely vulnerable and therefore at a very high risk of catching the virus.

Letters informing vulnerable people that they are no longer advised to shield from April 1, as well as with updated guidance, are due to arrive through people’s letterboxes over the next two weeks.

In the letters, health officials have said that have “set out practical steps people can follow to reduce their risk of catching the virus”.

These steps include shielders continuing to maintain “strict social distancing” and “to keep their overall social contacts at low levels, such as working from home where possible”.

The Government website said: “In line with the government’s COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021 roadmap published last month, those on the shielded patient list can begin to follow the national restrictions alongside the rest of the population, but are still advised to take extra precautions to keep themselves safe from COVID-19.”

This comes after coronavirus cases and hospitalisations continue to fall.

Additionally, more than nine in ten clinically extremely vulnerable people have already been vaccinated with the first dose of the COVID-19 jab.

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Although most vulnerable people have been vaccinated with the first dose, and some also with the second, the Government said that it is “still important” for people to continue to follow the national rules after April 1, as well as to “take the additional precautions set out in the guidance to keep themselves as protected as possible”.

The Government explained that local councils and supermarkets will continue to provide support for those shielding until March 31.

Those who are yet to register for support but are in need, are advised to register online or contact their local council before the end of this month.

Extremely vulnerable people will also continue to have access to supermarket priority delivery slots, but only until June 21.

Dr Jenny Harries, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, said: “Shielding has always been an advisory measure to safeguard those who are the most clinically vulnerable in our communities.

“We recognise how difficult this period has been for so many and the impact it has had on people’s wellbeing.”

Dr Harries added: “With the prevalence of the virus in the community continuing to decrease now is the right time for people to start thinking about easing up on these more rigid guidelines.

“If you have been shielding, we strongly urge you to take extra precautions following 1 April to keep yourself as safe as possible, such as continuing to observe social distancing and working from home.”

In February 2021, the Government announced a new predictive risk model that helped clinicians identify additional people who may be at higher risk from COVID-19 due to the combination of their underlying risk factors.

Up to 1.7 million vulnerable individuals were identified by the tool, taking the total number of people in the shielded patient list up to 3.79 million people, as of March 6, 2021.

As a result, over 800,000 more adults were prioritised to receive a vaccine that weren’t already in the top four priority groups for the first phase of vaccinations.

These people were also instructed to stay at home wherever possible and to not go to the shops.

The Government advised shielders on January 5, at the beginning of the UK’s third national lockdown, to “use online shopping if you can, or ask others to collect and deliver shopping for you”.

It also recommended registering to request priority access to supermarket delivery slots, which vulnerable people can still do via the link on the Government website until June 21.

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