Muscular Dystrophy UK is calling for more detail from the Government on its advice for people who are shielding.
The latest guidance was issued on 31 May, and applies to people in England and Wales.
We know many people with muscle-wasting conditions are shielding at the moment, and may wonder what this update means.
What does the guidance say?
The Government says people who are shielding remain vulnerable and should continue to take precautions but can now leave their home if they wish, as long as they are able to maintain strict social distancing. It says:
- If you choose to spend time outdoors, this can be with members of your own household.
- If you live alone, you can spend time outdoors with one person from another household. Ideally, this should be the same person each time.
- If you do go out, you should take extra care to minimise contact with others by keeping two metres apart.
The guidance applies in England and Wales. Other parts of the UK have not yet recommended the same.
What do we think?
We issued a statement on Sunday calling for more clarity from the Government. This says:
The situation around shielding for people living with a muscle-wasting condition is already confusing. Not everyone with one of these rare conditions is classed as high risk, but many who are have struggled to have this confirmed. As a result, people have contacted us about issues such as being asked back to work by their employers when this would not be safe.
Lockdown has been a stressful time for many families living with muscle-wasting conditions who are shielding. While some will welcome the new guidance, we are now faced with further confusion about why the advice has changed so suddenly when only a few weeks ago the Government’s recovery strategy said shielding would have to remain in place for a further period.
We look forward to further clarification and more detail so we can support our community to make informed decisions about what they can and cannot do.
Our statement was published by The Guardian and Daily Mail, and we have also been interviewed by the BBC alongside supporter Martin Hywood, who lives with a muscle-wasting condition, about our concerns.
It’s important to note the guidance is advisory. You may choose to remain in your own home at all times if you do not feel comfortable with any form of contact with others still.
What are we doing?
As we have mentioned, we are looking for further clarification and detail from the Government so we can support people living with muscle-wasting conditions to make informed decisions about what they want to do. We will be taking part in a roundtable discussion being led by the Department of Health and Social Care next week
We have also approached the neuromuscular specialist clinicians we are working with for advice.
How can we help?
We are continuing to update our guidance on shielding and other Covid-19-related topics. You can read this here.
Our helpline remains open for people looking for support and advice. We are able to take calls Monday-Friday, 10am-2pm. Alternatively you can email us at: email@example.com.
We have also partnered with Kinesthetica Coaching to provide a free wellbeing programme for people living with muscle-wasting conditions. Find out more about this here.