22,000 in Northumberland will miss 'Freedom Day'
Thousands of vulnerable people in Northumberland still face being ‘locked down’ next week, despite coronavirus rules coming to an end.
Clinically extremely vulnerable people – who were told to shield from March last year until just a few months ago – have received new Government guidance ahead of ‘Freedom Day’ on July 19, including continuing to meet only people outside.
NHS Digital figures show 22,000 people in Northumberland were classed as clinically extremely vulnerable as of July 6.
That includes 195 children and 1,625 people aged over 90.
Social distancing restrictions will end on Monday and 3.8 million clinically extremely vulnerable people in England have been issued separate advice – including meeting others outdoors wherever possible to reduce the risk of airborne transmission.
Other suggested measures include “considering whether you and those you are meeting have been vaccinated”, and asking friends and family to take a lateral flow test before visiting.
They are also being advised to shop at "quieter times".
Disability equality charity Scope says clinically vulnerable people feel they are ‘on their own’.
Louise Rubin, Scope's head of policy and campaigns, said: “Those most at risk have no concrete or consistent protections. Supermarket priority slots have been taken away and furlough is due to come to an end.
“This guidance is essentially asking people to shield, without offering even minimal support.”
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said the most effective form of protection is vaccination.
He added: "By July 19, everyone that is aged 40 and over, along with the clinically extremely vulnerable, will have been offered their second dose."