Updated advice for people shielding

Outdoor exercise can be taken from later this month.

People who are shielding are being advised that though they should continue to do so until at least the end of July, they can if they choose,  go outdoors to exercise from 18 June while maintaining strict physical distancing.

Those affected will receive letters from the Chief Medical Officer explaining that the decision on outdoor exercise has been taken after careful consideration by clinical advisors. Prevalence of COVID-19 has decreased and the evidence now shows the risk of outdoor infection is very low if people stay two metres apart. The exercise can be a run, wheel, walk or cycle but those shielding should not meet people from other households. 

In all other respects, the advice for those who have been advised to shield has not changed as there remains a risk of infection in indoor and crowded places where physical distancing may not be possible. However, the CMO’s letter also sets out that work is underway to develop a new approach which allows people to better understand their individual risk and make choices which are right for them. This will be made available over the summer.

The support currently in place for those who are shielding, in terms of free grocery boxes and priority access to online supermarket delivery slots, will continue throughout this time.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“We understand that the challenges of shielding are enormous, and that those shielding want and need clarity about when they can start to lead a less restricted life. 

“Today’s announcement means that, should there be no increase in rates of transmission of the virus, people shielding can go outdoors for exercise from 18 June while maintaining physical distancing of two metres.   

“We know many people may feel anxious about these changes and we would like to reassure everyone who has been advised to shield that they will shortly be receiving a letter from the Chief Medical Officer outlining how they can stay safe when they go outside, should they choose to do so.

“The guidance will remain under review and I want to reassure those who are shielding that we will do what is right for Scotland and only make changes where we are confident that it is safe to do so.

“We are doing everything we can to get the advice right so that people can safely, and gradually, start to make choices that reflect their individual and local circumstances.”     


The Scottish Government wants to take into account the experience of people shielding as they update guidance so we can respond to issues which are important to them We have been carrying out research interviews with those in the shielding category since 29 April. Public Health Scotland also launched a short survey on experiences and attitudes to shielding on 3 June which runs until 14 June. People shielding and their carers are encouraged to take part at online.

Shielding support and contacts

Coronavirus Education

Safe return to schools and nurseries

Scientific advice behind re-opening published.

Education Secretary John Swinney has published a summary of the scientific advice behind the plans to re-open schools and Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) settings.

In agreement with councils, professional associations and parent representatives, all schools will return on 11 August while ELC settings such as nurseries and playgroups will open over the summer.

The plans are contingent on scientific and medical advice that it is safe to proceed and complementary public health measures, such as Test and Protect, being in place.

The paper highlights:

  • growing evidence that the susceptibility to clinical disease of younger children is lower than for adults
  • generally good evidence that the severity of disease in children is lower than in adults
  • the majority view of the Chief Medical Officer’s Advisory Group is that actions to support distancing guidance in schools where children are in indoor environments for extended periods of time would be appropriate, while a minority believed schools could operate without distancing

Mr Swinney today updated Parliament on the work to re-open schools and ELC settings. He said:

“School closures are considered to have a negative effect on all aspects of children and young people’s progress and development, as well as their wellbeing. That is why we are working to enable as many children and young people as possible to return to education and care settings at the earliest date it is safe to do so.

“The scientific evidence and advice is an important part of that decision, alongside consideration of the other harms caused by ongoing restrictions. That is why I have published a summary of the scientific evidence which has informed our discussions and decisions to date.

“The evidence around coronavirus in general, and that relating to children in particular, is continuing to evolve. Some aspects are not yet well understood – the science cannot in many cases provide us with definitive conclusions.

“The scientific advice that we have received so far leads us towards taking a cautious approach and we will continue to monitor the evidence and advice to inform decisions.”


Coronavirus (COVID-19): Scientific evidence on schools and ELC settings

More information on the Strategic Framework published last week is here: