Coronavirus (COVID-19): Shielding

From Tuesday 5 January, mainland Scotland will move to a temporary lockdown, with new guidance to stay at home except for essential purposes. Some islands will stay at level (tier) 3.

The information on this page applies to areas in lockdown.

If you live in a level 3 area, read the Scottish Government’s advice on what you can and cannot do

People on the shielding list should strictly follow physical distancing and hygiene measures.

Read the Scottish Government’s Coronavirus (COVID-19): shielding advice and support

If you were previously told to shield

Before the virus, clinicians advised some people to avoid doing certain things. This is because of their specific health condition or specific treatments. You should continue to follow any specific advice that your clinician provides. Examples include people who:

  • are waiting for a solid organ transplant
  • are having treatment for cancer or have recently completed treatment

Those awaiting a solid organ transplant should contact their transplant team to discuss whether specific recommendations should be in place for them, in addition to this updated advice.

People living in a residential care or nursing home

The advice for the general population does not apply to anyone living in a residential care or nursing home. Your care home should be following The Scottish Government’s Care Home Visiting pathway.

Making choices about what it is safe to do

The Scottish Government has information to enable you to make informed choices about balancing risk with your health and daily activities including:

Going to work

You should continue to work from home if you can.

If you cannot work from home, you should not go to work. You will receive a letter from the Chief Medical Officer advising you of this. Your letter is called a shielding notification. It acts as a fit note for as long as lockdown is in place and can be shown to your employer. You do not need a separate fit note from your GP.

Going outside

You do not have to stop going outside. Going outside is good for mental and physical health. You should stay at home as much as possible but you can still go out for exercise and essential shopping or medicines.

You should not take public transport.

You should minimise contact with people outside your own household if you can.


If you, your child or someone you care for is on the shielding list, you can sign up for priority access to supermarket online delivery slots.

If you do visit shops or supermarkets, you should:

  • strictly follow the guidelines when shopping
  • limit the number of times you go to a shop
  • shop at quieter times

Going to school

Children on the shielding list who live or go to school in an area in lockdown should not attend in person.

Text message (SMS) service

The Scottish Government continue to send updates through the SMS Shielding Service. Read the Scottish Government’s shielding advice and support to find out how to sign up to this service.

Coronavirus vaccine

The first coronavirus vaccines are becoming available now and vaccinations for the most at risk groups have begun.

Vaccination helps you build immunity to the virus, so your body will stop the infection more easily. This can reduce your risk of becoming infected with coronavirus or make your symptoms milder.

After you get the vaccine you will still need to follow the latest government advice on physical distancing.

NHS Scotland strongly recommends you get your coronavirus vaccine as soon as it is offered to you.

Read further information about the coronavirus vaccine, including who’ll be offered it first

Check your symptoms

If you think you have coronavirus and would like to assess your symptoms, phone 0800 22 44 88. You will be asked to answer questions through an automated service. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Helpline for vulnerable people

A helpline (0800 111 4000) has been set up for those at increased risk who don’t have a support network, such as family or existing community support. This helpline will continue to be available even though shielding is now paused.

Callers will be connected to their local authority who will help them access the services they need, such as:

  • essential food and medication
  • links to local social work services for vulnerable children or adults
  • emotional support
  • contact with local volunteer groups

The helpline is open from 9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday.

Vitamin D

Everyone should consider taking a daily supplement of vitamin D. Taking a daily vitamin D supplement helps with bone and muscle health.

Read more about vitamin D on the Scottish Government’s shielding page.

Health and social care support

If you receive support from health and social care organisations, such as care support through your local authority, this will continue as normal.

Your health or social care provider will be asked to take additional precautions to make sure that you’re protected.

Looking after your wellbeing

Social isolation, reduction in physical activity, unpredictability and changes in routine can all contribute to increasing stress. Many people including those without existing mental health needs may feel anxious.

If you’re receiving services for your mental health, learning disability or autism and you’re worried about the impact of isolation, contact your keyworker, care coordinator or provider to review your care plan.

If you have additional needs please contact your key worker or care coordinator to develop a safety or crisis plan.

It’s important to stay mentally and physically active during this time.

Read further advice on your mental wellbeing

Further information