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‘I don’t want to die’: the shielders who fear the end of Covid restrictions

Thousands of vulnerable people say they face permanent house arrest as others abandon masks and social distancing Shielders are feeling abandoned. In the nearly two years since they were first told to cut themselves off from the world, people whose health conditions made them particularly vulnerable to Covid have seen official support fragment and then lapse, mask wearing become politicised, and lockdowns that have come and gone. But they have remained indoors and afraid, acutely aware of how the same society that renders them vulnerable – with the familiar indignity of rushed visits from carers or, now, demands to return to the office – doesn’t seem to care whether they survive. For many, the headlong rush back to “normal” means the end of the few freedoms they had been able to enjoy. A trip to a shop enabled by everyone wearing masks and prescribed social distancing becomes too much of a risk when those measures disappear. Shielders are forced to make unenviable decisions about risk, balancing their physical safety with the need for connection. Many have found solace in the online disability community, but fear that this will represent their only socialising for months, if not years, to come. Continue reading...
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