People shielding to protect themselves against coronavirus will be able to exercise and meet people from another household, as long as it takes place outdoors.
The change in guidance from the Welsh Government follows similar moves in England and will take effect from Monday, June 1.
Those who are shielding, such as people with chronic health conditions, can meet outside with people from another household – but should not go into another person’s house or share food with them.
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.
Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton, said: “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.
“We have advised everyone in Wales to maintain social distance of two metres and keep good hygiene when meeting outdoors. For those who are shielding, strictly following these rules is vital.”
Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething added: “I am pleased that so many have been shielding so diligently – not only protecting themselves but also helping to protect our NHS. We recognise how challenging these last few months, with minimal face-to-face contact with others, has been.
“I am 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 all pulled together to make shielding possible.”
The Chief Medical Officer is continuing to develop his advice for shielding people after June 15. All who are shielding will receive a letter from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales in the coming fortnight setting out the next steps.
South Wales East Senedd Member Delyth Jewell however has raised concerns over the change in policy.
The Plaid Cymru member said: “Questions must be asked on why the advice is changing for this extremely vulnerable group of people whilst the virus is still at the same rate of transmission as it was a few weeks ago.
“The First Minister himself confirmed on Friday that the R rate was still at 0.8 – which is dangerously close to 1. What advice have the Welsh Government received to make them change this policy? Can they guarantee the new guidance will protect this vulnerable group of people?
“And why was this change in policy communicated to the press before the very people it will affect?”
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