Vaughan Gething MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
The Chief Medical Officer for Wales initially advised those who were most susceptible to the most serious effects of COVID 19 to shield for a period of 12 weeks. That initial 12 weeks comes to an end on 15 June and the Chief Medical Officer for Wales has now confirmed the next steps for this group of people.
On 31 May the Chief Medical Officer for Wales updated his advice to those who are shielding. From 1 June the advice allowed unlimited exercise outdoors, and also indicated that those shielding could meet with members of one other household outdoors, as long as strict physical distancing and hygiene practices are adhered to. These changes, whilst modest, were a significant change for those who are shielding, some of whom had not left their homes for over 10 weeks.
New letters from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales will start to issue shortly to those who are shielding, confirming the changes that were announced on Sunday 31May and also asking those who are shielding to continue to do so for a further period of time. 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. They should continue to have food and medicine delivered to them.
Whilst it has been possible to make changes to some of the advice around exercise and meeting people outside, the virus has not gone away and as such it would be unwise to introduce any further relaxations to the advice at this time. The latest statement from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales is published here for your reference.
Going forward, the Chief Medical Officer for Wales will start to review the advice for those who are shielding on the same cycle as the review of the lockdown regulations. However, we do not expect that any further relaxation will be possible for this group for some time and so we have committed to write again to those who are shielding by 16th August.
Whilst some people will be reassured by the limited changes to advice, for some people this continuation of shielding will be a difficult message. I recognise that to be advised not to go to work or school or do your own shopping is challenging and frustrating, but this advice is in place for the safety of those who are shielding. However, I should emphasise this is advice and not instruction. Just as we all have choices to make for ourselves and our families as we come out of lockdown, those who are shielding will also want to choose how to respond and how best to manage their lives. The advice is in place for the safety of individuals.
I want to reiterate my previous thanks to those who have been shielding so diligently – not only protecting themselves but also helping to protect our NHS. I recognise how challenging these last few months, with minimal face-to-face contact with others, has been.
I continue to be incredibly proud of all those who have and continue to provide the vital support to enable people to shield. Our Local Authority partners, pharmacies, volunteers and major food retailers have continued to make huge efforts to make shielding possible and I am grateful to them for their continuing commitment.