How to stay safe as restrictions ease

Our Patient Advocacy team shares their tips on how to meet people indoors as well as going outside safely

Correct as of 16/7/21

Please get in touch for further information using the contact details at the bottom of this blog.

COVID-19 restrictions are beginning to lift across the UK in the coming weeks and months. You may be concerned about going out and about more, or you may be looking forward to getting out more, or somewhere in between; all are valid and understandable feelings.

Note: this blog does not replace advice from your medical team, but is designed to help you understand all the information available to you. We always suggest you take advice from your medical team about your personal risk of severe illness from COVID-19 if you are concerned. This advice also does not replace local advice or restrictions and it is your responsibility to check your activities meet the rules where you are.

How do I meet friends and family members safely?

In England, advice has changed to say that it is now permitted to hug others. This news may be welcome, but may also cause some concern to blood cancer patients. There are some things you can do to make hugging safer if you want to:

  • Only hug those who have been vaccinated if possible, who are much less likely to pass it on.
  • Keep the number of people you do hug to a minimum.
  • Keep hugs short and maintain distance and/or ensure fresh air at all other times when spending long amounts of time with others.

You may also find this video from the BBC useful: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-57046811

Here is a list of tips from the Patient Advocacy team here at Leukaemia Care to help you get out and about in the safest possible way.

  • Go at your own pace. The first step is the hardest, especially if you have been inside for a long time. Start by going out for a short period of time and doing low risk things, building up your confidence.
    • Don’t be afraid to say no to things that make you uncomfortable.
  • Use the knowledge you have already got about your own health to help you decide what actions to take.
    • For example, those of you who have had a transplant or are living with a chronic type of leukaemia may already have experience of avoiding infections. You can adapt these actions to help you avoid COVID-19 infection too.
  • Don’t forget to wash your hands! This is still an important and very effective way to control COVID-19, with the added bonus of preventing lots of other common bugs too.
    • Also make sure everyone else around you is following good hygiene rules, like washing their hands. The actions of those you are meeting up with will help protect you too.
  • Keep maintaining social distancing where possible, including with friends and family. Social distancing is still one of the most effective ways you can protect yourself from COVID-19, alongside good hand hygiene.
  • Wear a face covering when you go out. It is thought that face coverings do offer some protection to those wearing them, as well as the important factor of preventing you giving COVID-19 to others too
  • Continue to go out at quieter times of the day if you can.
    • If you still would like to avoid supermarkets, and you are registered with the shielding support service, you can still get priority for supermarket deliveries. Pressure on normal slots is also easing in some places, if you plan ahead.
  • If you want to do a specific activity once restrictions lift, choose a lower risk version where possible:
    • Want to get back in the gym? Many places are still offering online classes, or google to see if your local park has an outdoor gym.
    • Ordered your shopping online but forgot something? Or need to do the shopping in person? Pop to a smaller local shop or go at quiet times. You could also try Prime Now, which can deliver shopping from Morrisons at no extra cost within two hours in certain urban areas, or use a takeaway app like Deliveroo or UberEats which may list delivery from shops nearby.
    • Want to see your friends and family? Meet with them outside where possible. Suggest a BBQ, a picnic or a walk in the park.
    • Celebrating a special occasion? Ask to see the person celebrating separately or in a small group and suggest an outdoor gathering (please remember that there are still restrictions on the number of people that can gather at once).
      • You could use a marquee with open sides if you want to be undercover from rain but allow good airflow.
    • Want to have a pint in the pub or some restaurant food? Choose a place with an outdoor space or have a takeaway.
    • Need to stay over to see far away loved ones or want to go on holiday? You could choose self-catering accommodation so you can have the place to yourselves and control who comes in and out.

Do I have to return to work if I am concerned about catching COVID-19?

The pausing of shielding means that you can return to work if you cannot work from home, provided the workplace is COVID-safe. Your haematologist is the best person to advise if you are safe to return to work. You also need to talk to your employer at the earliest opportunity, if you haven’t already, as they will be able to provide you with details about precautions and talk to you about extra help you might need to return.

You may find our latest campaign, #LifeVsLivelihood, useful if you are concerned about returning to work. You can find out more about the campaign here.

Further information

You can find further information about COVID-19 on our COVID webpages here.

You can also get in touch with the Advocacy team by emailing advocacy@leukaemiacare.org.uk or by calling our helpline on 08088 010 444. The helpline team will help you or will make a note of your enquiry and the correct team member will call you back.

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