Chief medical officer advises 130,000 people in Wales they can stop shielding from 16 August

The shielded group are those who are classed as extremely vulnerable to developing serious illness because they have a specific health condition. Credit: PA

People in Wales most at risk of contracting coronavirus have been told they will no longer have to shield themselves from 16 August.

The shielded group, thought to be around 130,000 people in Wales, are those who are classed as extremely vulnerable to developing serious illness because they have a specific health condition.

Wales' chief medical officer, Dr Frank Atherton said: "With the reducing prevalence of coronavirus here in Wales - it's given us the opportunity to look again at the advice we've been giving to the shielding group.

"As long as we continue to see the decline in the viral transmission, our advice on the 16th of August will be to pause that shielding programme."

David Mears has been shielding for around 5 months and says he has "mixed feelings" about it being paused.

He said: "On the one hand after 121 days it would be absolutely delicious to to get out and enjoy life again. But I think as we'v seen in Leicester and Bradford there are spikes and these could so easily turn into a second wave.

"So my satisfaction of being discharged from home imprisonment is counter balanced by a real concern that I have to keep myself safe.

"My approach will be just to use my own judgement on what I do and where I go."

People most at risk were initially asked not to leave the house at all for a period of 12 weeks - and then from 1 June, people were told they can leave their homes to meet people from another household outdoors, as long as strictly follow to social distancing rules and good hygiene measures.

The chief medical officer Dr Frank Atherton announced if the virus continues to decline like it has been doing in Wales, everyone who is shielding will be able to go out to shop, return to work, if their workplace is Covid-secure – if not they should work from home and return to school.

Those in the shielding group have had to follow strict lockdown measures Credit: PA

He added that support services put in place to assist those shielding such as a weekly food box scheme will also come to an end on 16 August - but supermarkets will continue to offer priority delivery slots for this group.Dr Atherton said the prescription delivery service will remain in place until 30 September for those who need it. He added it is "very important" that people shielding do not continue to do it for "any longer than is necessary."

"While shielding will have helped to protect people from coronavirus, spending long periods at home indoors can have a negative impact on people’s mental and physical health."It is very important we do not ask people to take shielding measures for any longer than is necessary."

Dr Atherton added around 4,000 tests are being carried out each day - but only a "very small number" were testing positive.

At the height of the pandemic in April, 43% of tests were positive.

  • Watch the press conference in full with Dr Frank Atherton: