Shielding changes do not apply in Scotland, says Freeman

UK Government announced two million people shielding in England will be allowed to spend time with others outdoors.

Shielding changes do not apply in Scotland, says Freeman Getty Images

Coronavirus lockdown restrictions for Scots who are shielding will not be eased until it can be done “safely”, the health secretary said.

Jeane Freeman said the Scottish Government was considering “whether or not we can ease any element of their current restrictions” that are applied to the 120,000 people who could be most vulnerable to Covid-19.

Her comments came as the UK Government announced the two million clinically extremely vulnerable people in England who have been shielding since March will finally be allowed to spend time with other people outdoors.

Ms Freeman stressed that those changes “are for England only, they do not apply in Scotland”.

With some restrictions having been eased for most Scots, allowing them to meet people from other households out of doors, the health secretary acknowledged the coronavirus lockdown had been “incredibly difficult” for those who are shielding.

She told them: “We’ve asked you to shield because the virus represents a very serious risk to you, you matter and so we need to be very careful to get our advice right for you as we work through how we can safely ease the restrictions you face and what you can do to keep safe.”

She said the Scottish Government was looking to try to “move away from a blanket approach which requires all of you to stay at home all of the time, to one which reflects the latest clinical evidence and your individual circumstances”.

Speaking about the decision to allow shielded people in England to leave their homes, the Scottish health secretary said: “I don’t know what information or evidence they may have been looking at in order to reach the view that they have reached.

“I can’t comment any more on that.”

She added: “I want to be able to agree to some easing, but I absolutely have to make sure that our advice to that group of people, hard though it might be to hear and even harder to put into practice for them, is absolutely focused on keeping them as safe as we can.”

Jason Leitch, the national clinical director for Scotland, said he had friends and relatives who were shielding.

“I don’t like the fact we’ve had to be so draconian with the advice to them,” he said.

And he said they would “hopefully” be able to “adjust the advice” that Scots in this category are given.

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