IT has been four long months but from tomorrow Bryan Purdue is one of 150,000 Scots who can begin to ease into life in the ‘new normal’ with shielding officially coming to an end.

For the 42-year-old, who suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, it has been a long journey which has seen his care and support packages altered during the coronavirus pandemic.

Trips to hospital have been postponed and he has been shielding at his home in Inverclyde along with his parents.

Mr Purdue requires to be ventilated 24 hours, as he has had a tracheostomy, and is wheelchair bound. He was among thousands of Scots who were told to shield until the end of July.

Read more: Coronavirus: Huge easing in restrictions for shielding group

Although Scotland will remain in phase three, speaking at Holyrood yesterday First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said shielding which has seen the most vulnerable Scots follow a stricter regime during lockdown, could be paused from Saturday.

Ms Sturgeon said: "I am pleased to confirm that from August 1, we will pause the advice for people to shield.

"For those of you who have been shielding, this means that from Saturday you can now follow the guidance for the general population.

"But please be especially careful about face coverings, hand hygiene and physical distancing. "

She added: "The pause also means that children who have been shielding will be able to return to school.

"And adults will be able to return to work."

From last Friday shielders were be able to visit hairdressers, cinemas and outdoors pubs and restaurants.

They were also able to meet with up to eight people from two households indoors subject to physical distancing, and up to 15 people from four household outdoors.

Despite the relaxing of restrictions, Mr Purdue won’t be rushing back to busy places and will make careful judgment on where to go.

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It was March 11 that he had his last trip out before lockdown and another 14 weeks before he was even able to go out for a walk and even then only with members of his own household.

“I will still be taking precautions until I feel confident enough to go to certain places,” said Mr Purdue who was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a genetic disease that causes muscle weakness and wasting, when he was six-years-old.

“I think in some cases, perhaps returning to a restaurant, I might ask my parents to check things out first to see what measures are in place and how it would be for me to go there. I don’t think I would like to go somewhere blind and not anything about the set up. For me I think it will be a case of being very cautious until there is a vaccine.

“I would have to be careful wherever I went to make sure people were keeping a social distance. I am certainly missing attending Greenock Morton games and it will be some time before that can happen again.”

Mr Purdue had been enjoying art classes at the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow which he had been attending every couple of weeks. They have also involved in supporting him at home. The social contact and interaction with other people in the class is something which Mr Purdue has missed, but hopes will return when it is safe to do so. Some of support services have been run online giving Mr Purdue the chance to speak to people virtually.

“I am very grateful for all the support I have been given during lockdown. From the hospital to the hospice and DMD Pathfinders, to my parents who have, in effect,been shielding with me.

“I also think we had good guidance from the Scottish Government and I’ve been happy with the pace restrictions have been eased."

Adapting to what is becoming the new normal for Mr Purdue will have to be carefully considered.

He added: "I think I will wear a face covering in most situations when I am outside and not just in places where it is required. It is another added protection. While I have still had homecare visits on a reduced scale, visitors have been wearing PPE.

"Staff from the hospice were involved in talking about my care package which was something those shielding were advised to discuss should they fall ill from coronavirus and where and how they would like their care to be managed."

Meanwhile, a coalition of charities is urging the Chancellor to protect the jobs of workers who have been shielding, warning they will be put in an "impossible position" when restrictions ease.

An open letter to Rishi Sunak signed by 15 charities, including Age UK and Macmillan Cancer Support, raises concerns that those who have been shielding will be forced to choose between their health and their job.

The signatories warn these employees are at risk of being made redundant, or could be forced to return to the workplace when they do not feel it is safe to do so.

The letter to Mr Sunak says: "Our concern is that, especially as your furlough arrangements start to unwind and the shielding scheme is paused from next week, some of these workers will find themselves in an impossible position.

"This is because if their occupation is one which they cannot carry out from home, and if it is extremely difficult to make their workplace safe for them, they may be forced to choose between putting their health on the line by returning, or staying safe by giving up their job."

The signatories say this is "desperately unfair" for those who have made "great sacrifices" by staying at home, and call on the Chancellor to take action and protect their jobs as well as supporting employers.

This could include extending the furlough scheme for those who have been shielding or are at high-risk, the letter adds.

It comes after a survey conducted by Macmillan Cancer Support found many cancer patients are fearful of returning to workplaces, with 42% saying they feel it is currently unsafe for them to work outside of their home.

According to the Government, employers have been told to make sure the shielded can work from home wherever possible, including moving them to another role if required.