What does the new lockdown mean for parents caring for a child with serious health needs?

Posted on the 5th January 2021

In response to rising coronavirus cases, national lockdowns have been imposed across the UK. The rules differ slightly depending on whether you live in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, but the prevailing message is the same: stay at home.

Below is a summary of the current restrictions in England, followed by summaries of the similar restrictions in place in the devolved nations.



  • Schools are closed for most pupils, except for vulnerable children or the children of key workers. Schools will remain closed until after the February half term at the earliest.
  • Children should have access to remote learning from their school until they reopen for face-to-face teaching.
  • Exams such as SATS, GCSEs and A Levels will be cancelled in 2021. The Government has announced that teacher assessment will replace these exams.
  • Special schools are being encouraged by the Governement to allow pupils to attend as they normally would if their parents or guardians want them to.


Clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) children and adults

  • NHS run services across the UK are functioning and you should seek support for your child’s existing health conditions as you normally would.
  • CEV people are advised to shield.
  • You can still receive care at home from professionals.
  • Support bubbles still apply and you can receive informal care at home from people in your support bubble. The full Government guidance on forming a support bubble can be found on their website here >>
  • Currently the Government says that “Members of the household who are not clinically extremely vulnerable should continue to attend work if they are unable to work from home”. If you feel uncomfortable going to work in person, you can ask your employer to furlough you. The Government has encouraged those who require advice about their employment rights to contact Acas – visit their website here >>
  • CEV people are strongly advised not to go to the shops to buy essentials or to their pharmacy to collect medicine.


Support for CEV people

  • People who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus can register to receive support via a new Government online service here >>
    • You can use this service to:
    • Get access to priority supermarket deliveries (if you do not have access to priority delivery already)
    • Ask for someone to contact you about any local support that’s available
    • Update your details – for example, your address
  • You can also request volunteer support from NHS Volunteer Responders via an app or by telephone here >>
    • NHS Volunteer Responders can provide support with a number of things, including collecting prescriptions and transport to appointments.


Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland

The lockdown measures in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are largely the same those in England, with schools closed to most pupils and shielding advice for CEV people. CEV people across the UK can use the above methods to get support. People in the devolved nations can also access support through the applicable ways mentioned below.


  • Key differences:
    • Schools are currently set to stay closed to most pupils until 29 January
    • Whilst the restrictions on schools apply everywhere in Scotland, the other lockdown restrictions do not currently apply to the islands.
    • A National Helpline is available for people who are shielding or self-isolating to get help with essential items like food or medicine: 0800 111 4000
  • A full summary of lockdown restrictions in Scotland is available on the Government website here >>


  • Key differences
    • Schools are currently set to stay closed to most pupils until 18th January
    • Guidance for CEV people in Wales is available here >>
    • CEV people are encouraged to contact their local authority directly if they require additional support to get essentials like food and medicine.
  • A full summary of Lockdown (Tier 4) measures in Wales is available on the Government website here >>

Northern Ireland

  • The lockdown in Northern Ireland is expected to last until at least 6 February.
  • The lockdown rules in Northern Ireland are largely similar to those in place in England.
  • Guidance for CEV people in Northern Ireland is available here >>
  • More information on the restrictions in place in Northern Ireland is available on the Government website here >>


Sources and further reading

The full summary of lockdown restrictions, published by the UK Government and applicable in England: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home

The full Government guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people in England: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19#further-advice-at-tier-4-stay-at-home

The Government definition of ‘vulnerable children’ exempt from school closures: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision

If you would like to connect with others facing similar challenges during this time, you can find out more and join the WellChild Family Tree for mutual support and advice here >> 

The information on this page is reviewed weekly. Last reviewed 12/01/21

Callum Campbell, WellChild Family Information Officer


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