Shielding advice updates

Shielding is a measure for people who are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable to the effects of Covid-19 (coronavirus) to take extra steps to reduce the risk of coming into contact with someone with coronavirus. Shielding has now paused in the UK.

As of August 2020, people who have been shielding in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland no longer need to do so. 

It's understandable that these recent changes might mean that you feel pressure to make a decision about whether you can – or should – leave your home, and you may feel anxious about whether this is safe for you. 

Information is correct as of 19 August 2020.

Why is shielding guidance changing? What is my risk as a woman with ovarian cancer?

Since March, at a time when the rate of Covid-19 (coronavirus) infection was high and continuing to grow, shielding was recommended for people who were considered extremely vulnerable to the effects of coronavirus. This included women with ovarian cancer who are having chemotherapy or some other targeted cancer treatments, including PARP inhibitors.

The latest scientific evidence shows that the chance of coming into contact with someone with coronavirus has continued to decline. As a result, the government believes that the time is now right to relax the advice to those shielding, so people who have been shielding can start to regain a degree of normality in their daily lives.

While some people will welcome this opportunity to get out and about, it's natural to worry about the risk of coronavirus to you, and to want to know your level of risk. While it's not possible to predict anyone’s risk exactly, your healthcare team will be able to talk you through your level of risk and what that means for you.

If you have any specific questions or concerns about your own situation you can contact our confidential support line by calling 020 7923 5475, Monday to Friday, 9am–5.30pm.

What has changed in the shielding advice?

As of August 2020, people who have been shielding in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland no longer need to do so. This means that you're advised to follow the same guidance as those who have been following social distancing guidelines.


Read the England update on shielding

Read the England advice on social distancing


Read the Scotland update on shielding

Read the Scotland advice on social distancing


Read the Wales update on shielding

Read the Wales advice on social distancing

Northern Ireland

Read the Northern Ireland update on shielding

Read the Northern Ireland advice on social distancing

Local lockdown

If there's a local lockdown, you may be advised to follow different guidance.

What is the advice about returning to work?


From 1 August, when shielding has paused, if you need to work and can't do so from home you are able to return to work as long as your workplace is Covid-secure, following the guidance available.


As of 1 August, when shielding has paused, you're able to return to work if required and it's safe to do so. Employers have a duty to protect your health and safety. The Scottish government has published a workplace risk assessment tool to help you and your manager assess and help reduce your risk from Covid-19.


As of 16 August, when shielding has paused, you'll no longer be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). You should continue to work from home if possible, however you can return to work if your workplace is Covid-secure.

Your employer should help you to return to work safely and must take all reasonable measures to reduce the risk of exposure to coronavirus. The Welsh Government has issued guidance to employers on taking measures to make the workplace safe.

Northern Ireland

From 31 July, when shielding has paused, employers have a 'duty of care' for staff, customers and anyone else who visits the workplace. This means they should be taking all steps they reasonably can to support your health, safety and wellbeing.

If you're unable to follow guidance on social distancing at work or during travel to work, it's important to tell your employer that you need to follow government advice and avoid these risks.

Uncertainty about returning to work

We know that some people may feel uncertain about returning to work. The government is asking employers to make sure that appropriate measures are put in place for those currently shielding to return to work when they are able to do so. You should contact your employer and discuss your situation, agree a plan for returning work and confirm that appropriate adjustments have been made before you return.

If you have concerns or questions about whether it's safe for you to go to work, speak to your healthcare team.

Can I still get any support if I don’t feel ready to leave the house?

You're no longer advised to shield. However, you can still keep your priority for supermarket delivery slots, and will still be able to access help with shopping, medication, phone calls and transport to medical appointments.


Food shopping
When you registered online as needing support with food deliveries, your data will have been shared with supermarkets. This means if you make an online order with a supermarket (as both a new or existing customer), you'll be eligible for a priority slot.

There are also many commercial options now available for accessing food, including telephone ordering, food box delivery, prepared meal delivery and other non-supermarket food delivery providers. Your local authority and local charities can provide a list of options.

The NHS Medicine Delivery Service continues to be available from local pharmacies. The service delivers medicines to you where family, friends or volunteers can't collect them. Contact your local pharmacy if you'd like to use this service.

NHS Responder Programme
The NHS Volunteer Responders programme is continuing to run in England for those who need help with shopping, a prescription collection, transport to a medical appointment or who want a friendly chat. Call 0808 196 3646 for more information.

Read about the support you can get now that shielding has been paused in England.


The Scottish Government will continue to support people who have been shielding now that it has been paused. 

You can still buy groceries online for delivery. Priority access to supermarket delivery slots is still available to anyone who signed up before 31 July.

You can get support from your local authority if you're unable to afford food. You can contact them via the free national helpline on 0800 111 4000.

You can also still arrange for your prescription to be delivered. This can be by someone you know or by someone from your pharmacy. Contact your hospital care team if you need to have your medicines or equipment delivered.

Read about the support you can get now that shielding has paused in Scotland.


Food shopping
If you don’t have local friends, family or neighbours to help you, you can contact your local council for support with food deliveries. Many supermarkets still also offer food boxes for delivery.

The National Volunteer Prescription Delivery Scheme will be available until the end of September.  

Other support
The Welsh Government are also providing a support service to help you get support for practical issues such as paying bills as well as mental wellbeing advice.

Read about the support you can get now that shielding has paused in Wales.

Northern Ireland

There's a range of support available for you now that shielding has been paused. Details of this support is contained in the letters that were issued to those who were shielding. If you have any concerns about your health or mental wellbeing, you should speak to your GP. 

Read about the support you can get now that shielding has paused in Northern Ireland.

Further support

If you need urgent help and have no other means of support, you should contact your local authority to find out what support services are available in your area.

Please remember that you can always call our specialist nurse-led support line on 020 7923 5475 (9am–5.30pm, Monday–Friday) if you have any concerns or questions or just need someone to talk to. 


We make every effort to ensure that the information we provide is accurate. If you're concerned about your health, you should consult your doctor. Target Ovarian Cancer cannot accept liability for any loss or damage resulting from any inaccuracy in this information or third-party information on websites to which we link.