The Royal College of GPs is urging patients to remain cautious following the publication of latest Government advice allowing shielded patients to go outdoors as long as social distancing rules are observed.

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: 
"Shielded patients are feeling the greatest and most serious impact of lockdown, and this slight relaxation of restrictions could bring positive benefits for their mental, as well as physical, health.

"However, we would advise extreme caution, particularly for those who are in the most high-risk groups, such as our patients with cancer and serious long term conditions including respiratory and heart disease."

The government says it has updated its guidance for people who are shielding taking into account that Covid-19 disease levels are substantially lower now than when shielding was first introduced.

Real risk that good work could be swiftly undone

The guidance states that 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. If they choose to spend time outdoors, this can be with members of their own household, and if they live alone, they can spend time outdoors with one person from another household.

Professor Marshall added: "The latest Government advice is just that - it is not a 'green light' allowing us to return to our previous way of life and there is a very real risk that all the good work we have achieved so far in the battle against Covid-19 could be very swiftly undone, with very serious consequences.

"We would encourage all our patients, but particularly those who are shielded, to remain vigilant and not to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour as a result of this latest stage in the easing of restrictions."