Today, the Department of Health and Social Care issued new shielding guidance for people who are classified as clinically extremely vulnerable.

The guidance states that formal shielding will only be reintroduced in the very worst affected local areas and only for a short period of time.

People who are advised to shield will be told by the Government who will write you a letter.

You are advised not to shield again unless you receive a letter telling you to do so.

Mencap calls for the shielding advice to be sent in an accessible, easy-read format to help people with a learning disability understand what they need to do to try to keep themselves safe.

Edel Harris, Chief Executive of the learning disability charity Mencap, said: 

“We understand how important it is not to ask anyone to shield unnecessarily; those who have been shielding have faced unimaginable levels of isolation and have borne the brunt of this crisis. However, a lack of clarity around whether people will be asked to shield again and how these decisions will be made leads to increased anxiety. Some people with a learning disability remain terrified of catching coronavirus and may decide to shield without any of the support they need being in place. 

“People with a learning disability require accessible and easy-read information from national and local government on how they and their families can stay safe at this time. Government must work with regional Public Health England directors to provide this information and bolster vital social care services so that everyone can be supported to stay safe and well over the coming winter months.”

Read the Government's latest shielding guidance online here.


For further information or to arrange interviews with a Mencap spokesperson or case study, contact Mencap’s media team on:

Notes to editors: 

About Mencap

There are 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.  Visit

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap’s Freephone Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (9am-6pm, Monday-Friday) or email     

What is a learning disability? 

  • A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life;
  • Learning disability is not a mental illness or a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’;
  • People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.