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Bradshaw demands more detailed guidance for people shielding

Alliance Health Spokesperson Paula Bradshaw has told the Assembly that people shielding should be given more detailed guidance urgently so they can make future plans, and that people with diabetes should be added automatically to the shielding list. She also expressed concern at the absence of reliable data informing the raising of future restrictions.

Speaking in the Assembly debate on the Coronavirus Regulations, the South Belfast MLA stated: “While it is great to see so many people taking advantage of the easing of lockdown restrictions to date, there is still too much ambiguity amongst the positive signs of recovery within the community.

“For those shielding and for private practitioners, including dentists and podiatrists, there is still a lack of clear guidance coming from the data on which these decisions are being made.

“Many of those shielding have received a letter to say the shielding period has been extended, but others haven’t, and this is unacceptable in what is already a highly-anxious situation. On top of this, the evidence is clear that people with diabetes are particularly susceptible to COVID-19, so it is mystifying that they have not all received shielding letters automatically.

“The same issue of being unable to plan for the future applies to private health practitioners, who remain concerned for their financial future as the guidance remains unclear over when their businesses can operate again. In cases such as these, the guidance needs to be considered and issued urgently.

“As we move through the stages, we must ensure decisions are taken by applying the same protocols, as this will be the only way to manage how people begin to interpret the current regulations. The data document released on Sunday night was bizarre. It has major gaps in information and what was provided was vague and the conclusions it drew often dubious.

“We must ensure that key messages are clear and up-to-date, we must be open about the evidence on which we are making decisions, and we must ensure that those shielding are not left isolated facing significant uncertainty.”