'I can't wait to finally get my hair cut': What's it like to come out of shielding after four months?

Millions of people who have been shielding due to the coronavirus outbreak will be able to leave their homes for the first time in four months.

At the start of lockdown, clinically vulnerable people were advised to not to visit shops, places of worship or return to their workplace.

From Saturday, 1 August, they will be able to do so as long as they stick to social distancing rules.

Among those told to ender shielding were people with severe medical conditions including some cancers and respiratory diseases, as well as transplant recipients and some pregnant women.

The charity Age UK said that no longer having to shield would be “manna from heaven” for elderly people who have been isolated from their families.

However, many people have expressed on social media that they feel it is too soon for those who have been shielding to return to work.

Meanwhile, others are concerned that the blanket lifting of shielding will exacerbate the anxieties of many vulnerable people.

Rosie Duffin, 65, in Farham has secondary breast cancer that has spread to her lungs and explains that she will continue shielding.

“Although most of it has disappeared due to medication, it has left some scarring, which of course, leaves me very vulnerable when it comes to Covid-19,” she tells The Independent.

“With the ease of lockdown being postponed, how can it be safe for those of us who are shielding?”

Ms Duffin explained that she will continue staying at home and only having visitors in her garden.

“The one thing I will be doing is having my hair cut next week, though even that feels very daunting,” she adds. ”After four months of cutting it myself, it needs a great deal of attention. I can’t wait.”

Ellie Lees, 27, from Surrey, suffers from congenital heart disease and while she explains that she is “generally well”, she is also hesitant about coming out of shielding.

“It feels like the most vulnerable people are being asked to take on a lot of personal responsibility,” she says.

“I don’t feel confident that there are enough protections for people like me.”

Meanwhile, many of those caring for vulnerable people have also said they will continue shielding.

Take Lorna Fillingham, 48, in North Lincolnshire, whose 10-year-old daughter has a rare genetic condition that means she has severe learning and physical disabilities.

“We have been going out for walks and whenever we have come across other people, most have made no attempt to socially distance,” she says.

“We cannot rely on others therefore to do the right thing, and with no fully effective treatment and no fully effective track and trace system in place, then we cannot take the risk yet of going to places where there are many people about.”

However, some people are looking forward to coming out of shielding. Like Jack Harris, 31, in Derbyshire, who has had Cystic Fibrosis since he was three years old.

“It will be strange getting back into the community,” he says. “But I’m excited to get back to some form of normality. I have my mask ready to use which is fully filtered.

“Today, my wife and I are taking our four-year-old to his favourite park for a socially distanced picnic for my father in law’s 70th birthday.”

You can read more about the government’s advice regarding coming out of shielding here.

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