Concern grows over ‘confusing’ coronavirus guidance for over-70s

Ministers will clarify the guidance for the elderly as many criticised the current rules can lead to confusion. The news comes as different sources speculated that vulnerable members of public would have to stay indoors for up to 18 months or until an effective vaccine is found.

Former pensions minister Baroness Altmann warned that country could soon experience “social unrest” if over-70s are told to stay indoors for longer than younger people, according to the Telegraph.

Baroness Altman claimed many older people would “risk going to prison rather than being forced to isolate at home”.

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to disclose his blueprint for “phase two” of the lockdown on Sunday.

The exit strategy will outline plans for people to go back to work and for primary school activity, which could happen as soon as June 1.

Other countries like Denmark, Norway and Germany have all partially reopened schools.

In Italy, which became one of the global hotspots of the pandemic, around 4.5 million people returned to work on Monday.

A Cabinet minister told The Telegraph: “I’d be very surprised if there is a tightening of the measures for over-70s.

“The whole thing is going to be based around consent rather than compulsion.”

A minister who is an insider in the debate concerning elderly and vulnerable people revealed: “The all over-70s grouping is going to morph.

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“There is a big difference between the 1.5 million ‘shielded’ people, known as extremely critically vulnerable, who have been sent a letter advising them to shield for 12 weeks, vulnerable people with pre-existing health conditions of any age, and healthy over-70s.

“This needs to be made clearer – you can’t just have a blanket over-70s group. That’s unsustainable. It’s not a static group.”

Addressing the fact that the over-70s make up nearly nine million of the country’s population, the minister said: “There aren’t enough supermarket delivery slots to cater for that amount of people.

“What we are going to see is more self-selection and personal responsibility. People will self-select whether they are vulnerable or not.

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“The over-70s are a very sensible group – by and large, they know if they should be staying indoors or not.”

The Cabinet minister added: “There has been a lot of over-interpreting of the advice, and people are going to have to start making judgments for themselves.

“So far it’s all advisory – we haven’t had a situation where the police have been checking the date of birth of elderly people in the supermarkets, and rightly so.

“I’d be very surprised if the advice gets any stricter for the over-70s.”

The latest figures announced on Monday at the Downing Street press conference show a death toll of 288, the lowest number since March.

However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the reproduction ‘R’ value, indicating the rate of infection, was still not low enough to ease the restrictions.

Experts say the ‘R’ value needs to remain continuously below one, and it is currently between 0.6 and one.

Mr Hancock lead to confusion over the measures announced by stating on Twitter that “the clinically vulnerable, who are advised to stay in lockdown for 12 weeks, emphatically DO NOT include all over-70s”.

Best-selling author and former frontline doctor Adam Kay said: “I suspect the Health Secretary meant to say ‘Clinically extremely vulnerable’. I think it’s fair to say that the messaging is a little muddy.”

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