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COVID-19 Fact Checks

Shielding in Northern Ireland

This article explains what shielding letters are, who should have received them and who sends them. 

The information and guidance on shielding is being actively reviewed and will change as the NI COVID-19 Recovery Plan is implemented.  

FactCheckNI have created a LIVE Q&A article on shielding letters which provides information on a range of issues relating to sheilding including accessing food and medication.  It is updated as and when new information becomes available - you can find it here.


Some people will need help getting food during COVID-19, this could be for a number of reasons, such as they are vulnerable or shielding, they are unable to get to the shops or that they can't afford food.   Anyone in need can phone the COVID-19 freephone community helpline on 0808 802 0020 or visit the Advice NI website here to get help.  The level of help given will depend on your circumstances: 

Health is devolved in Northern Ireland (NI) which means decisions about health are made by the Government in NI. The Government is called the Northern Ireland Executive (NI Executive).

During the COVID-19 outbreak the NI Executive makes the overall decisions about how we will deal with the crisis.  It works closely with wider UK (England, Scotland and Wales) and Republic of Ireland Governments to look at the best way to use the health system to fight COVID-19 and protect people’s health

What is ‘Lockdown’?  

These are the Government rules to limit contact between people to stop the spread of COVID-19.  In Northern Ireland everyone must stay at home unless they have a reasonable excuse or need for leaving.  If you leave the house, you must stay more than 2m (6ft) apart from anyone outside your household.  This is called social distancing.

Are the rules the same in NI, UK and ROI?

The rules are slightly different in in England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland.  However, the main messages to stay home unless you have a reasonable excuse to leave and to practice social distancing are the same.