Yesterday (19 July) most coronavirus restrictions were lifted in England. And there were changes to restrictions in Scotland as the country moves to ‘Level 0 (zero)’, with plans to remove more restrictions on 9 August.
Wales moved to ‘alert level one’ on 17 July, with the aim of most restrictions being removed on 7 August.
In Northern Ireland, the Executive plans to announce some rule changes later this week which will start on 26 July. We expect these will include increasing the number of people who can meet up, but they won’t remove lots of restrictions all at once.
We know many in the MS community might be concerned about restrictions easing, and what it means for you.
What do our medical advisers say?
To help you make decision about what situations you’re comfortable with as restrictions ease, our medical advisers have estimated the risks for people with MS in different situations.
They recommend that some people with MS keep taking extra precautions to protect themselves from catching the virus.
This includes people classed as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ who are more likely to experience severe illness if they catch COVID-19. It also covers people whose immune systems aren’t working quite as well as normal because of treatments they’re on (and which might make COVID-19 vaccines protect them less well). The last point applies to some people who are taking (or recently took) high-dose steroids or certain disease modifying therapies.
What are UK governments saying to people who are at increased risk?
- In England, the UK government has published updated guidance for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. It says that people in this category may want to think about continuing to take extra precautions, especially when cases of COVID-19 are high. Read the UK government guidance for people in England who are clinically extremely vulnerable
- In Scotland, the government advice for Level 0 restrictions includes guidance for people considered clinically extremely vulnerable. The government is launching a survey for those at highest risk from COVID-19 to find out what additional support might be needed as restrictions ease. The Scottish Chief Medical Officer has also written to this group with advice on what moving to Level 0 will mean for them. Read the Scottish government guidance for level 0
- In Wales and Northern Ireland the governments have specific advice if you’re clinically extremely vulnerable. In Wales, everyone who was previously on the shielding list will be contacted by letter from the Welsh Chief Medical Officer in the next 2 weeks. Read the Welsh government advice for people considered clinically extremely vulnerable. Read the Welsh government advice for people considered clinically extremely vulnerable
Read the Northern Ireland government advice for people considered clinically extremely vulnerable
Raising your concerns with UK governments
We’re raising your concerns with the government in England about ending all restrictions at this time. And we’re monitoring what’s being proposed in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We’ll work with them on any issues of concern to the MS community.
We’re disappointed the government in England are not taking further measures to support people who are still at higher risk from COVID-19. We’re calling for practical changes – including a right to work from home where possible and better communication so everyone knows their risk.
Throughout the year, we’ve been hosting monthly meetings with the Vaccines Minister for England, Nadhim Zahawi, alongside other charities. These meetings allow us to ask questions raised by the MS community and highlight your concerns.
Last week we told the Minister that many people have felt unclear about their level of risk and that more needs to be done to better communicate this. He is helping us discuss these concerns in more detail across government.
We also co-signed a letter to the Prime Minister highlighting our concerns about ending all restrictions in England and the need to better protect those at higher risk from COVID-19.
We’re here for you
You’re not alone. Our MS Helpline is here for you to chat things through. Contact them on 0808 800 8000 or email [email protected]. Our helpline is open from Monday to Friday 9am to 7pm (except bank holidays).
And you can read our coronavirus information pages to help you make decisions about what’s right for you.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing stories from the MS community about how different people feel about the end of lockdown.
How do you feel about the changes?
Let us know how the easing of restrictions is affecting you.
Email us at [email protected]