Home U.K. Grandparents will finally be reunited with grandchildren - major lockdown change announced

Grandparents will finally be reunited with grandchildren – major lockdown change announced

Ministers have eased restrictions on the most high-risk groups now the coronavirus crisis has past its peak. Around 2.2 million clinically vulnerable people have been shielding for the last ten weeks. Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said they had made a huge sacrifice by staying indoors and they will now be able to meet up with family on a one-to-one basis.

Grandparents will now be able to see their grandchildren (Image: GETTY)

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Those considered extremely vulnerable will be able to go outside with members of their household from today while those who live alone can meet outside with one other person from another household.

Mr Jenrick said: “This will enable those shielding to see loved ones like children and grandchildren, something many I know are aching to do.

“Having spent many weeks indoors some will understandably be very cautious and concerned about going outdoors. You should only do what you are comfortable with.”

He added: “If the conditions become less favourable our advice to those being asked to shield will unfortunately need to be tightened. The Government will continue to ensure that support is available to those who need it for as long as possible and for as long as people are advised to follow the shielding guidance.”

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More than half of those shielding are under 70 and 90,000 are children.

Mr Jenrick said it had placed a big emotional burden on people and more than half of those who have been self isolating have said they want somebody to talk to.

Speaking in Downing Street, he said that 38,489 people have now died from coronavirus, an increase of 113 on the previous day.

Concerns have been raised about how safe it now is for the clinically vulnerable to head outside.

The Communities Secretary said the government has assessed that the risk is lower now the peak of the virus has been passed.

But he said the changes, which only apply to England, were advisory and individuals must make the “best decisions for them” and only do what they are comfortable with.

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Alasdair Rankin, director of research at Blood Cancer UK, said the announcement had been a “bolt from the blue”.

“We would like to see the evidence this has been based on,” he said.

Phil Anderson, head of policy at the MS Society, said: “Over 130,000 people live with MS in the UK and thousands of them have been left feeling forgotten after months of shielding. While for some it may be a relief that this relaxation is happening in England others have been left feeling confused.

“We’re extremely concerned this news has come out of the blue – people who are extremely vulnerable will rightly want to hear a lot more about the scientific evidence showing this will be safe for them.

Robert Jenrick spoke about the lockdown changes today (Image: BBC)

“If the Government is serious about supporting vulnerable people who are shielding they need more than just the ability to go outside. Crucially, we want to see better mental health support for everyone who needs it.”

Steven McIntosh, director of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said the high risk group still faces heavy restrictions like being advised to avoid food shopping, going to pharmacies or their workplaces.

He said: “The Government also hasn’t yet delivered its commitment to provide greater help to this extremely vulnerable group, and Macmillan has heard from people living with cancer that existing ‘shielding’ support isn’t getting through.

“So the Government must now set out how they will guarantee the needs of the most vulnerable and isolated are met.”

It comes as lockdown measures are eased tomorrow, with some young children return to school and larger groups able to meet up outdoors.

Outdoor markets and car showrooms will reopen and other shops are expected to open later in the month.

Elite athletes and professional sportsmen and women can resume competitive sport safely behind closed doors.

But social distancing restrictions remain in place and people should only gather outside.

Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said: “It is thanks to the terrific dedication of the British public, alongside the continued hard work of our NHS, that we are able today to move to step two of our recovery strategy and begin to carefully ease some lockdown measures.

“With children returning to schools, some shops reopening and a chance to see friends and loved ones outside of our households, this is an important step for our wellbeing and that of the country.

Many grandparents have been shielding for months (Image: GETTY)

“With children returning to schools, some shops reopening and a chance to see friends and loved ones outside of our households, this is an important step for our wellbeing and that of the country.

“But we must stay alert and it is absolutely vital that everyone continues to follow social distancing guidelines so that we can control the spread of the virus. The message to the public is simple: stay alert, control the virus, save lives.”

The government also announced plans to make 6,000 new supported homes available for rough sleepers.

Head of the Covid-19 rough sleeping taskforce Dame Louise Casey warned that “the pandemic is not over” and vulnerable people must still be protected.

“For homeless people the task was to bring as many people in off the streets and out of communal shelters,” she told the Downing Street press conference.

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