Millions of clinically vulnerable people were ordered on Monday night to stay indoors until they are vaccinated.
The Prime Minister has brought back ‘shielding’ guidance for people with severe underlying health conditions.
He said: ‘If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, we are advising you to begin shielding again and you will shortly receive a letter about what this means for you.’
More than 2.2million people in England – almost four per cent of the population – are on the NHS Digital shielded patients list.
They have been told to stay at home and only leave for medical appointments and exercise, and not to go to work even if they cannot work from home.
However, Mr Johnson pledged that everyone who is on the shielding list will be offered the vaccine by the middle of February.
He added: ‘If we succeed in vaccinating all those groups we will have removed huge numbers of people from the path of the virus. That will eventually enable us to lift many of the restrictions.’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced tough new restrictions on Monday night aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus
Shielding was put in place in March and then paused at the end of July. It aimed to protect those at greatest risk of severe illness and death from Covid-19.
Clinically extremely vulnerable people include those who have had an organ transplant and people with cancer undergoing chemotherapy.
The return of the shielding guidance comes despite warnings that it had a catastrophic impact on mental and physical health during the first lockdown.
Officials admitted the programme had been a ‘blunt tool’ and while it may have protected people, it had a major impact on their mental health.
The Prime Minister also made the controversial decision to bring back the ‘Protect the NHS’ slogan from the first lockdown.
Experts have warned that this slogan meant people with non-Covid conditions, such as heart attacks and strokes, stayed away from hospitals.
This meant attendance at A&E plummeted by up to 50 per cent, and contributed to a surge in ‘excess’ deaths from other illnesses during the first wave.
Vulnerable people will once more be required to ‘shield’ by remaining indoors until they are vaccinated Johnson said. Pictured: A family in Cheshire watches Johnson’s announcement on Monday night
James Taylor, executive director of strategy at disability equality charity Scope, said: ‘The Prime Minister has once again asked millions of disabled people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to shield.
‘This will fill many disabled people with anxiety as they face uncertain months ahead locked away from loved ones with little clarity about what support the Government will provide.
‘It’s vital those shielding aren’t left feeling forgotten again like many did last year.
‘2020 was a gruelling year, as many disabled people faced isolation, and struggled to access vital healthcare as well as food and essentials.
‘The Government must urgently take steps to prevent the failings of previous lockdowns and make sure disabled people are properly supported this time.’