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Definitions: social distancing, self-isolating, shielding and vulnerable

The government has published guidance on protecting yourself and others from coronavirus.

Staying alert and safe (social distancing)

To continue to fight against coronavirus we must stay alert and stay safe. The UK government is continuing to ease restrictions. If you are fit and well, and are not living in an area which is experiencing a local outbreak (this page will be updated if Camden enters local lockdown), then you should:

  • socialise indoors with members of up to two households (in your own households, or somewhere else that is now open e.g. restaurant, place of worship)
  • socialise outdoors in a group of up to 6 people from different households, or larger groups if everyone is exclusively from one or two households
  • try to limit interactions with anyone outside the group you are with e.g. other customers in a restaurant
  • try to limit the number of people you see, especially over a short period of time
  • not hold or attend celebrations (e.g. parties) if it will be hard to maintain social distancing
  • not hold or attend celebrations (e.g. parties) if it will be hard to maintain social distancing
  • only stay overnight from your home in groups of two households
  • provide your contact details to businesses if they ask.  This is so you can be contacted as part of the NHS Test and Trace programme.

If you can, you should avoid using public transport and aim to walk, cycle or drive instead. If you do use public transport you will need to wear a face covering (there are some exceptions to this rule).

It is currently against the law for gatherings of more than 30 people to take place in private homes or public outdoor spaces unless planned by an organisation who has followed COVID-19 guidance.

Further government guidance about Staying alert and safe (social distancing) is available.


If you, or someone you live with shows symptoms of COVID-19 it is important that everyone in the household follows self-isolation guidance. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are any of the following:

  1. recent onset of a new continuous cough
  2. a high temperature
  3. a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 you must self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started. During this period you must:

  • not go to work
  • not go to school
  • not go to public areas
  • not use public transport or taxis.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you should arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19.  If you test positive you will be alerted by text, email or a phone call.  Read the government guidance on the NHS test and trace service, and what to do if you test positive.

In summary:

  • If you show symptoms you must stay at home for 10 days from when the symptoms started. After 10 days, if you do not have a high temperature, you do not have to continue to self-isolate. If you do have a temperature after 10 days, you must wait to end self-isolation until you no longer have a temperature
  • If someone you live with shows symptoms you must stay at home for 14 days. The 14 days starts from the first day that someone in the household became ill
  • If during the original 14-day isolation period someone in the household displays symptoms, then they must stay at home for 10 days.

Further information about self-isolating is available on the government website.

Shielded people: clinically extremely vulnerable

Some people are at greatest risk of severe illness from COVID-19 due to specific medical conditions. These people are clinically and extremely vulnerable and were advised to take extra precautions during the peak of the pandemic. This is known as ‘shielding’.

The government is advising that you do not need to shield at the moment as the transmission of coronavirus in the community has fallen significantly. This means:

  • you do not need to follow previous shielding advice
  • you can go to work if your workplace is Covid-secure, but should work from home if possible
  • clinically extremely vulnerable children should attend education settings
  • you can go outside but should try to keep overall social interactions low
  • you can visit businesses e.g. supermarkets, pubs and shops while keeping 2 meters away from people if possible
  • you should continue to wash your hands carefully
  • you will no longer receive free food parcels, medicine deliveries and basic care from the National Shielding Service

You will still be able to get:

  • volunteer support by contacting your local authority (contact details and further information are available)
  • prescriptions, essential items and food delivered by NHS Volunteer Responders
  • priority slots for supermarket delivered (if you previously registered for free food parcels).

If transmission of COVID-19 increases then you could be advised to shield again. The government will write to you if the advice changes.

If Camden enters local lockdown and you are clinically extremely vulnerable then the government will write to you to advise you to stay at home and shield.

More information about clinically extremely vulnerable people is available.

Clinically vulnerable people

Some people are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 due to particular health conditions.  These people are classified as “clinically vulnerable”.  If you are clinically vulnerable you:

  • can go outside as much as you like but should try to keep social interactions low
  • can visit businesses e.g. supermarkets, pubs and shops whilst keeping 2 meters away from others, of 1 meter plus other precautions
  • should continue to wash your hands carefully and more frequently as usual, and thoroughly clean frequently touched areas of your home and/or workspace.

Guidance for clinically vulnerable people is available.

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