What is self-isolation, social distancing and shielding? 17 April 2020 What do they mean and what is the difference between them?

The Coronavirus outbreak has seen the terms self-isolation, social distancing and shielding become part of our everyday language. But what do they mean and what is the difference between them?

It's important that we all understand the differences between the three terms, particularly when customers are contacting us and vice-versa, as the status of a person could affect the service, we are able to deliver to them.

Social distancing

The latest government guidance means that everyone should be social distancing as a bare minimum during the Coronavirus outbreak. That means if we do need to go into the office for any reason or enter a customer's home, we need to respect the social distancing guidelines of two metres between people.


Self-isolation is the most effective way of preventing coronavirus spreading. Government advice is to self-isolate if you have any coronavirus symptoms, might have been exposed to it, or live with someone with symptoms.


Shielding is like self-isolating, but for longer, and is for people who are deemed extremely vulnerable due to a specific health condition.

For the latest NHS advice on the Coronavirus outbreak, please visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/. 

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