COVID -19 Updated Shielding Advice for Vulnerable People

Following recent discussions with the Chief Medical Officer for Wales (CMO), the Minister for Health and Social Services has published a statement containing modest changes to the advice for shielding people. Approximately 130,000 people in Wales are shielding because they have an underlying health condition which makes them at risk of serious illness if they contract COVID19. The current advice in relation to the shielding period ends on 15 June in Wales.

While there is a need to approach any changes with caution, and those who have been shielding will need to be very strict about hygiene and social distancing, from 1 June 2020 there are two changes to the advice for this group: 

  1. The first change relates to exercise. Until now those who are shielding have been advised not to leave their homes. Now, as the incidence of COVID-19 in our communities has gone down and the risk of infection is lowered, the CMO has advised that those who are shielding can start to take exercise outdoors. This outdoor exercise is unlimited, as long as when they go outside they strictly follow the social distancing rules and hygiene practices. Risk can never be completely eliminated but we advise those shielding to exercise at times that are less busy, so the risk of contact with others is reduced.
  2. The second change relates to the ability to meet others. As a Government we have recognised the importance of being able to meet with family and friends. Everyone else in Wales has already been advised that they are able to meet with another household from 1 June as long as it is outdoors. Therefore, the CMO is now advising that those who are shielding should be able to meet outside with people from another household on the same basis. However, they must not go into another person’s house or share food with them.

Welsh Government have advised everyone in Wales to maintain social distance of 2 meters and keep good hygiene when meeting outdoors. For those who are shielding, strictly following these rules is vital. 

There are no other changes being made to the advice for those who are shielding at this stage. People who are shielding should continue to follow all the other advice previously given. They should not go shopping or attend work outside of home and they should continue to have food and medicine delivered to them. 

Welsh Government will ensure local authorities are informed of any changes to the current support arrangements.

The CMO is continuing to develop his advice for what shielding people should and should not do after the 15 June. All those who are shielding will receive a letter from the CMO before 15 June setting out the next steps. 

Thank you for your continued support for this group of shielding people. Support for general wellbeing, mental health and financial hardship is likely to become increasingly important. Where local authorities are contacted by a shielding person, please continue to refer them to appropriate local authority and third sector support including advice services such as Citizens Advice Cymru. 

The Wales Council for Voluntary Action has also being notified on behalf of the third sector.  Welsh Government are in the process of updating their website guidance and other communications materials to reflect the modest changes outlined above.

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