Why I think people who are shielding from coronavirus deserve better as lockdown restrictions continue to ease
And while families everywhere – quite rightly – celebrate the possibility of being reunited from a safe distance, returning to school or work and getting to grips with whatever the new normal is, more than 1.5million of us remain safe indoors with little possibility of being able to go anywhere soon.
It seems the people classed as extremely vulnerable to coronavirus – those of us who have been told to ‘shield’ for 12 weeks – have been forgotten about.
In March, more than 1.5million people received letters from NHS England urging them to stay home at all costs to keep themselves safe from the increased risk of becoming seriously ill if they were to catch coronavirus.
I’m only 30, work full-time and (outside the pandemic) usually live a pretty active lifestyle.
But now, I am classed at high risk of serious illness due to having a rare blood condition.
So here I am – more than 10 weeks on – and I haven’t been anywhere apart from the garden.
And while I’ve been happy to stay home to keep myself, my husband, family, friends and colleagues safe – and not add to the huge burden on the NHS – I did rather think we would have been given an update on what the world will look like for us at the other end of lockdown.
In April, the initial 12-week self-isolation period for those on the high risk list was changed to until the end of June, at a minimum.
For me, that will be 15 weeks in total. Unless it’s extended again.
And as Boris Johnson announced the latest lockdown changes on Thursday, May 28, I for one was eagerly waiting for something – anything – that would set out what’s going to happen for me going forward.
All we got from the Prime Minister was a thank you for our sacrifice, and a reminder to keep at it for the time being.
A day later – on Friday, May 29 – Environment Secretary George Eustice warned that those shielding from coronavirus may have to continue to do so ‘for several more months’.
This was on the same day dozens of charity bosses presented a letter to the Cabinet Office calling for clear and consistent advice on how people observing shielding measures can protect themselves going forward out of lockdown.
Coronavirus has absolutely consumed every moment of all of our lives for weeks, and months, on end.
As a nation we have been so desperate for updates and positive change which would allow us to see our families safely and give us a small break from the monotony of lockdown.
For many, this week’s announcement is a chance to look to the future when things may not look so dark.
But for those of us still shielding, nothing has changed.