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Staying safe and government guidance

We're here for you if you want to talk

0808 2080 888

[email protected]

Coronavirus guidance for children at high risk

This page explains government guidance in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for children at high risk of serious illness from coronavirus.

Shielding has now paused in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland

In England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, shielding has now 'paused'. In Wales, shielding is set to continue until 16 August.

Where shielding is paused, children with blood cancer are no longer advised to shield. Instead, they should strictly follow the same guidance as the wider population.

We know that many people across the UK are worried about these changes. It's important to remember:

For more information about your work rights, financial support and help accessing food or medication, see our page about practical support if you're shielding or at high risk of coronavirus.

Making sense of government guidance

Last updated: 1 August

As we move through the pandemic, guidelines are changing, becoming less consistent across the UK, and may even be conflicting with what your clinical team are saying.

This can make it difficult to think through it all and decide what’s best for your child.

It’s important to remember that these are guidelines. They are intended to be informative, and to guide parents and clinical teams, but not to dictate what should happen in individual situations.

There are guidelines that explain which children are at high risk. And there are guidelines that explain what those at high risk should do to stay safe, which is covered on this page.

Guidelines can help you understand your child’s risk to some extent. But all children with blood cancer are different. Your healthcare team can give you the most personalised advice about your child’s risk and sensible precautions.

We hope the guidelines we share here are helpful, but always talk to your child’s clinical team for the best advice.

Although the chance of your child coming into contact with coronavirus is lower now that less people in the UK are infected, the risk to them if they get coronavirus as someone with blood cancer has not changed. So it’s really important that you continue to take steps to reduce the risk of catching the virus and maintain strict social distancing while outside.

Government guidance in the UK

Last updated: 1 August

As of 1 August, the following are the government guidelines for children at high risk of coronavirus throughout the UK.

We have separate information about which children are at high risk.

What you choose to do, or not do, to limit your risk of catching coronavirus, is a personal choice. We have separate information to help you understand your level of risk and decide what's right for your family.

From 1 August, children at high risk of coronavirus living in areas unaffected by a local lockdown are advised to follow the same guidance as the wider population. This means:

  • They do not need to follow previous shielding advice.
  • They can go to school when it re-opens - see the government's guidance on the opening of schools
  • They can go outside as much as they like, but should still try to minimise social interactions.
  • They can visit shops, but should follow strict social distancing (this means keeping 2 metres away from others wherever possible, or 1 metre where this isn’t possible but you can take other precautions).
  • They should continue to wash their hands well and often
  • Keep frequently touched areas in your home as clean as possible.
  • Avoid visiting areas experiencing a local lockdown, where the risk of catching coronavirus is higher.
  • They will no longer receive free food parcels, medicine deliveries and basic care from the National Shielding Service.

They can still access:

  • prescriptions, essential items and food delivered by NHS Volunteer Responders
  • priority supermarket slots (if you previously registered for these)
  • local volunteer support.

Currently, Leicester, Oadby and Wigston, Luton, Blackburn with Darwen and Bradford are experiencing ‘local lockdowns’. If you live in one of these areas, your child should continue to shield. This means:

  • They should stay at home as much as possible and keep visits outside to a minimum.
  • They can spend time outdoors with members of your own household
  • They should maintain social distancing and avoid gatherings
  • They should not form a support bubble with another household.
  • They should not go to school or shops
  • They should not go into other people's homes, or have friends over.
  • They should still go to any medical appointments

For the latest guidance in your area, visit your local council website or, in England, check the government’s information on local restrictions.

Find out more about practical support if you're at high risk of coronavirus.

More information: Coronavirus guidance for adults at high risk in England.

From 1 August, children at high risk of coronavirus are advised to follow the same guidance as the wider population This means:

  • They do not need to follow previous shielding advice.
  • They can meet indoors with up to 8 people from 2 other households, whilst social distancing (keeping 2 metres apart).
  • They can meet outdoors with up to 15 people from 4 other households outdoors, whilst social distancing (keeping 2 metres apart).
  • They can use public transport, and go into shops and leisure venues, whilst wearing a face covering.
  • You can travel as far from home as you like.
  • You can book holiday accommodation or travel to a second home.
  • They can go inside pubs and restaurants.
  • They can visit public gardens.
  • They can attend places of worship.
  • They can return to school when term starts.
  • They will no longer receive weekly grocery boxes from the government.

They can still access:

  • practical support via the free national COVID-19 helpline: 0800 111 4000 (open Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm)
  • priority supermarket slots (if you previously registered for these).

Find out more about practical support if you’re at high risk of coronavirus.

More information: Coronavirus guidance for adults at high risk in Scotland.

Until 16 August, children at high risk of coronavirus are advised to continue shielding. This means:

  • They can go outside for unlimited exercise.
  • They can meet people from another household, but only outside.
  • They must maintain good hygiene (frequent hand cleaning) and social distancing (keeping 2 metres away from other people).
  • They should not go to school or shops
  • They should not go to other people's homes, or have friends over.
  • They should avoid close contact with other people inside their home.
  • They should go to any medical appointments

You will receive a letter advising you what to do after 16 August.

Find out more about practical support if you’re at high risk of coronavirus.

More information: Coronavirus guidance for adults at high risk in Wales.

From 1 August, children at high risk of coronavirus are advised to follow the same guidance as the wider population. This means:

  • They do not need to follow previous shielding advice.
  • They should stay at home as much as possible.
  • They should limit contact with other people and follow strict social distancing if they do go out (this means keeping 2 metres away from others),
  • They should continue to wash their hands well and often.
  • They can go to school

They can still access:

  • practical support via the free national COVID-19 community helpline: 0808 802 0020 (open Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm)
  • priority supermarket slots (if you previously registered for these).

Find out more about practical support if you’re at high risk of coronavirus.

More information: Coronavirus guidance for adults at high risk in Northern Ireland.

Practical things you can do to protect your child, as guidelines change

Last updated: 1 August

As guidelines change, it can be difficult to understand how to apply them in practice. Here are some things you can do to reduce your risk of catching coronavirus, in addition to the guidance set out above.

If you go outside, it’s important to follow social distancing measures carefully and maintain good hygiene. This means your child should:

  • keep 2 metres away from other people (unless they are in your support bubble)
  • avoid touching their mouth, nose or eyes
  • avoid touching surfaces others could touch, like traffic lights or park benches (if this is unavoidable, they should use hand sanitiser/wash their hands as soon as they can).
  • wash their hands thoroughly (for around 20 seconds) as soon as they get back.

They may also want to consider:

  • going out when it’s quieter (for example, first thing in the morning or in the evening)
  • avoiding places that will be busy
  • wearing gloves
  • wearing a face mask.

If you live in Wales, or an area affected by a local lockdown, you’re advised to observe social distancing with other members of your household. Where possible, this means your child should:

  • minimise time spent in shared spaces, and keep shared spaces well ventilated
  • keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from other people at home
  • use a separate bathroom (or clean after each use) and use separate towels
  • sleep separately
  • not use the kitchen or eat with others at home
  • use separate cutlery, dishcloths and tea towels
  • clean door handles and kitchen and bathroom surfaces regularly
  • other people they live with should take hygiene precautions when leaving and entering the home to keep them protected.

In Scotland, Northern Ireland and most parts of England, you no longer need observe social distancing in the home. However, it’s a good idea to:

  • keep following the advice to regularly wash your hands thoroughly (for 20 seconds) with soap and water, or use a hand sanitiser
  • continue to avoid touching your face with your hands
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home.

If you live with someone who has to go to work, they should be following the strict advice to prevent catching or spreading coronavirus during their work. When they get home, they should wash their hands thoroughly. Inside the home, you should consider the precautions above for 'In the home'. If these measures aren't possible or you are still worried, you may want to consider living separately. 

Face masks and coverings can help reduce the risk of passing on coronavirus if someone has it but isn’t showing any symptoms. So although wearing a mask doesn’t stop you getting coronavirus, it's good for everyone to wear face coverings in public spaces to stop the virus spreading.

If your child needs to go to a medical appointment, or anywhere they may not be able to stay two metres away from other people, they should wear a face mask or covering. Make sure they wash their hands before and after they put it on, and avoid touching the mask while they're wearing it. The government has guidance on how to make and wear your own face covering.

There are different rules about when you must wear face coverings across the UK:

  • In England, by law you must wear a face covering on public transport. It will also be compulsory to wear face coverings in shops and supermarkets in England from 24 July.
  • In Scotland, by law you must wear a face covering in shops, on public transport, and in airports, train stations and bus stations.
  • In Wales, there are no legal requirements to wear face coverings, but the government advises wearing them in situations where it's difficult to stay 2 metres away from others.
  • In Northern Ireland, by law you must wear a face covering on public transport and in public transport stations.

Some people are exempt from these rules - to find out more about the rules where you live, use the links above.

Current advice from the World Health Organisation and the British Veterinary Association is that there’s no evidence that pets can be a source of infection or become sick from coronavirus.

However, there is some evidence that coronavirus can survive on surfaces. This could include your pet’s fur, so it’s important to wash your hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals. Avoid letting your pet touch your face, and avoid touching your own face with your hands.

PDSA have more information about pets and coronavirus.

Tell us about your experience

You can help improve support for people with blood cancer by completing our impact of coronavirus survey. The results will help us understand the impact on people with blood cancer and help us support clinicians and the NHS.

Keep updated about coronavirus and blood cancer

Join our mailing list for key updates about coronavirus for people with blood cancer, what we're doing to help, and ways you can help, including campaigns you may be interested in.

Support for you

Call our free and confidential helpline on 0808 2080 888 from Monday to Friday, 10am to 7pm, and Saturday to Sunday, 10am to 1pm.

We are currently receiving a very high volume of calls related to coronavirus, so if you're not able to get through straight away, please leave a message and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.

You can also email us if you prefer to get in contact that way. We'll usually get back to you within two working days, but due to the current rate of calls and emails we are currently receiving it may take us longer.

Talk to other people with blood cancer on our Online Community Forum – there is a group for coronavirus questions and support.

You can also find out what's helping other people affected by blood cancer through coronavirus and beyond in our pages on living well with or after blood cancer.

The following companies have provided funding for our coronavirus support, but have had no further input: AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Celgene, Gilead, Incyte, Kyowa Kirin, Novartis, Pfizer, Sanofi, Takeda.