Those affected have been told not to leave their homes even if they cannot work remotely. The government said residents could be eligible for statutory sick pay, employment support allowance, or universal credit as well as the coronavirus job retention scheme.
Thousands of people who are at extreme risk from the coronavirus and live in tier 4 areas have been told to stay indoors at all times unless they are exercising or have medical appointments.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) issued new advice on Monday warning people classed as “clinically extremely vulnerable” to stay home, in a bid to protect them from the new, more infectious strain of Covid-19.
The DHSC said the high-risk group should stay at home as much as possible. Children who have been advised to shield should not attend school, the department added.
The government said it would be putting support measures in place to ensure that clinically vulnerable residents are able to get food and medicine deliveries.
NHS volunteer responders will also be asked to help by making regular friendly phone calls and providing transport to and from medical appointments.
The clinically extremely vulnerable group includes people whose immune systems may be suppressed after organ transplant, or those with cancer or severe respiratory conditions, such as cystic fibrosis.
The DHSC said letters would be sent later this week to all those affected by the new advice, although these could be delayed by Christmas.
It added: “Anyone in tier 4 areas who received the shielding letter in November and whose condition hasn’t changed should follow the advice immediately until they receive the letter. We will also be issuing letters by email for those who have registered an email address with their GP practice.”
Anyone not classed as extremely vulnerable but with an underlying health condition or aged over 70 is being advised to stay home as much as possible and to minimise contact with other people.
Clinically extremely vulnerable people living outside tier 4 areas have been told to continue following existing advice.