How to interpret Covid-age


Last updated 1st June 2020

The great majority of the population are ‘vulnerable’ compared to the young and fit. It is therefore helpful to group by Covid-age, using clinical judgement where necessary. There will always be a risk to everyone, but while for some the risk of leaving the safety of their home may be extremely high, for others the risk may be minimal. The risk will change over time and location, as the number of new cases changes.

We have given suggestions, leaving it to organisations to decide where to ‘draw the lines’ at any time and place. We suggest four vulnerability groups: ‘very high’, ‘high’, ‘moderate’ and ‘low’. These groups do not align with the vulnerabilities noted on the tables in the related webpages listed at the bottom of the page.

This approach is a ‘work in progress’ and we welcome feedback to enable this to be developed further for individual workplaces. For example, some workplaces may only require two or three different vulnerability groups, and different questionnaires may be needed.

This information is available as a separate download Assessing a worker’s vulnerability using Covid-age and an example questionnaire for the line manager to use is Covid-age Individual Vulnerability Questionnaire

Vulnerability level Definition Workplace considerations
Very High

Covid-age 80-85 and above

High risk of death.

Those who must take great care when they leave the security of their own home.

Ideally work from home.


If attending work, the risk should not be significantly greater than the risk within their own home.


Ensure low likelihood of anyone breaching social distancing. Ensure they can maintain good personal hygiene with low likelihood of contacting contaminated objects and surfaces.


Covid-age 70 to 85

High risk of becoming hospitalised and seriously ill.

Those can leave their home to go shopping or for a walk in the park, and associate freely with other members of their household.

OK to attend work if the risk of doing so is no greater than the risk of shopping in the local supermarket, or social distancing in the streets, parks and countryside.


Keep the risk in the workplace as low as reasonably practicable by redeployment or controls including PPE.


Clinical work, care work and working closely with others (such as teaching, sharing a vehicle, using public transport) may be possible provided controls (e.g. screens, PPE) are effective in managing the risk.


Some individuals in essential roles may be asked to accept a higher risk and agree to do so where this can be justified.


Covid-age 50s and 60s

Those who are much less likely to develop severe disease A degree of risk may acceptable where it is not possible to eliminate it as far as reasonably practicable.


Includes clinical work with higher hazard and risk levels, or roles where physical control or restraint is required, or where additional risk has to be accepted and can be justified.


Covid-age below around 50

Those who are very unlikely to develop significant disease Risk is accepted where it is not possible to eliminate it as far as reasonably practicable.
Pregnancy No current evidence of significantly increased risk to mother or baby unless mother has significant medical issues Current advice is to minimise the risk to pregnant women, while allowing them to choose whether to attend work and what role to undertake at work. Risk should be reduced as far as reasonably practicable.


Advised to avoid roles where a degree of risk cannot be avoided, such as clinical work, care work and working closely with others