The Chief Medical Officer for Wales Dr Frank Atherton has confirmed people in Wales who are shielding will no longer need to do so after 16 August.
Around 130,000 people in Wales have been advised to take shielding measures since the start of the pandemic because they are at high risk of developing serious illness if they contract coronavirus.
The change in the advice means that, from 16 August, people in the shielding group can go to work or to school and go shopping but they should continue to take steps to protect themselves from coronavirus by keeping a 2m distance from others and washing their hands frequently.
The Chief Medical Officer has previously advised all those shielding can take unlimited exercise outdoors and meet with members of one other household outdoors. People who are shielding can also form part of an extended household.
Dr Frank Atherton said: “Shielding will have been difficult for many people – tens of thousands of people have made some very significant personal sacrifices to follow the guidance and to protect their health during the height of the pandemic. I want to thank them for that because it has not been easy. I also want to thank everyone who has supported those who have been shielding.
“Shielding is a huge request for someone to undertake, so it’s important that we don’t ask people to shield for longer than is necessary. As the level of the virus in our communities is now low, shielding should pause from 16 August. This means those who have been shielding can gradually resume day-to-day life, but taking extra care around physical distancing and hand washing. We will keep this under review and if we see transmission levels increase, we may need to consider advising the shielding group to take extra precautions and measures to protect themselves in the future.”
Over the summer, a review will be undertaken of all children on the shielding list. Although shielding is pausing, the list will be maintained. We will use the latest guidance from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health to determine whether each child needs to remain on the list.
Dr David Tuthill, Wales Officer for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “We now know more about coronavirus than we did a few months ago and have been able to update our guidance based on the evidence developed over those months. Serious illness from the virus in children is very rare and shielding itself brings its own problems for children. The lockdown has been tough for all children who have missed out on school, play and seeing friends – but especially for those who have been shielding. Should we face further outbreaks, we can be confident that the vast majority of children, including those under the sole care of a GP, will not need to shield. We hope this announcement will be good news for many families.”
The weekly food box deliveries, which have been coordinated by local authorities, will end after 16 August, but priority slots for online supermarket shopping will remain in place. As of 14 July, more than 152,000 food boxes have been delivered to shielding people across Wales. The prescription delivery service will continue until the end of September.