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‘Call me vulnerable at your peril’ - Norfolk ‘shielders’ react to announcement of lockdown easing

PUBLISHED: 17:00 31 May 2020 | UPDATED: 17:08 31 May 2020

Norfolk shielders Wendy Norman, Katrina Johnson and Johnathan Welden. Pictures; Wendy Norman/Katrina Johnso

Norfolk shielders Wendy Norman, Katrina Johnson and Johnathan Welden. Pictures; Wendy Norman/Katrina Johnso

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The announcement that people shielding can now go outdoors has left people in the county feeling conflicted - with some feeling as though they had been “forgotten”.

Wendy Norman, of Norwich, who is shielding from Covid-19. Picture: Wendy NormanWendy Norman, of Norwich, who is shielding from Covid-19. Picture: Wendy Norman

On Saturday evening, it was announced that from Monday lockdown restrictions on the most vulnerable people will be eased and they will be able to visit one person from another household and take in outdoor exercise.

For some, it feels a welcome boost, but some are calling for greater clarity, having felt left in the dark over what their future held.

For 57-year-old Wendy Norman, of Norwich, who has been shielding for 12 weeks as medication she takes to treat arthritis affects her white blood cells, one of her first thoughts is of being able to see the sea again.

She said: “The last 12 weeks have been extremely difficult at times, particularly as I am on my own. I have friends who are shielding with their children or partners and they say they understand what it feels like, but they just don’t. They don’t know what it is like to have nobody to bring you a cuppa or talk to about what is on the television.

Katrina Johnson and Johnathan Welton, who are shielding in Lingwood. Picture: Katrina JohnsonKatrina Johnson and Johnathan Welton, who are shielding in Lingwood. Picture: Katrina Johnson

“When it was announced I was just pleased to be mentioned really - we have heard a great deal about general lockdown but not too much about people that are shielding. I say people that are shielding as I refuse to be called vulnerable - call me vulnerable at your peril.

“I have a very close friend I’m going to meet and I am going for a drive to see the sea, but other than that I don’t really plan to change too much about what I’m doing.”

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Katrina Johnson, 44-year-old supermarket worker from Lingwood and partner Johnathan Welton, 55, have been shielding in Lingwood since March 23, as Mr Welton has a form of blood cancer.

Ms Johson said: “Other than one text message in March we haven’t really been told anything about what we could do - we just feel like we had been forgotten.

“We are trying to be positive about it all but I don’t think the government is really looking out for vulnerable people and the timing seems strange. We’re probably going to stick to what we are doing.”

The pair have been taking walks in their garden and have totally redecorated their house to pass the time in lockdown.

She added: “We have been finding jobs around the house we did not even know existed.”

Writing in The Sunday Times, Norwich-based writer Laura James said she was “left conflicted” by the announcement.

She wrote: “On one hand, a daily walk would be amazing. On the other hand some in the scientific community are questioning whether the general easing of lockdown measures is happening too widely and too quickly.

“I worry that a trip to the park could spell devastation to my family.

“Life in lockdown has been reminiscent of the opening scenes of a disaster movie, but much duller. Stick in my bedroom, looking onto the street below.”


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