Information for people who have been identified as being at a very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.
Why is shielding advice paused in Wales after 16 August 2020 and what does ‘paused’ mean?
The Chief Medical Officer for Wales has paused his advice to shield as the prevalence rate of the coronavirus in our communities has reduced. He has also considered the health and wellbeing of people who are shielding and the potentially harmful effects of continuing to shield. This means that after the 16 August 2020, people will no longer need to shield.
I haven’t received the latest letter sent in August from the Chief Medical Officer. Where can I get a copy of the letter?
You can view and download this shielding letter here. Your shielding letter will no longer act as proof of eligibility to statutory sick pay after the 16 August, however it does contain useful information and advice from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales.
The information in the letter is also available in easy read.
I have seen local lockdowns on the news. What should I do if there is an outbreak in my area?
Your name will remain on the Shielding Patients List (SPL) in case we need to write to you again with any future changes to the advice. We will also notify people online and in the news.
What can I do after 16 August when shielding is paused?
You can follow the same rules as the rest of the population of Wales, but take precautions by social distancing from people when out, washing your hands regularly or using a hand-sanitiser and avoiding touching surfaces.
Shielding was always a personal decision and was only ever advisory. If you have been following this advice to protect your health, the Chief Medical Officer for Wales has now changed the original advice and from the 16 August:
- You no longer need to stay 2 metres or 3 steps away from people you live with or who are part of your extended household (where permitted);
- You can go to work, if you cannot work from home, as long as the business is COVID-secure (has taken reasonable measures to minimise risk to employees);
- Children who have been shielding can attend school;
- You can go out for any reason, including going to shops to buy food but you should stay 2 metres or 3 steps away from other people.
I feel anxious about shielding ending. Where can I find support?
If you need to speak to someone, the CALL Helpline provides confidential listening and emotional support in Wales, 24 hours a day – call 0800 132 737 or visit www.callhelpline.org.uk/
Older people, their family, friends, carers, or professionals can also contact Age Cymru’s Advice Line on 08000 223 444
You can contact your local council to discuss what other help is available in your area from voluntary and community organisations. Please also discuss any concerns with your GP.
Where can I find information about my health condition, managing my condition or Covid related information specific to my condition?
There are a number of helplines and information services that provide guidance and information tailored for people with particular health conditions. A list of organisations providing such services is available on the Public Health Wales website - click on the 'Charity and Support Organisation Directory for those with specific health conditions or requirements.’
Should I wear a face covering for further protection?
We advise that you follow the latest Welsh Government advice on the wearing of face coverings.
If you have been shielding we advise you wear a medical mask when there is an unavoidable need to access health or social care settings. Masks should be provided to people in this category if required.
I am nervous about returning to work. What safety measures are in place?
The Welsh Government has issued Statutory Guidance on taking all reasonable measures to minimise exposure to coronavirus in workplaces and premises open to the public. The Keep Wales Safe – At Work guidance builds on these requirements and aims to help employers, employees and the self-employed to work safely.
Each business is unique and will need to decide what actions it needs to take to operate safely, depending on the nature of the business including the size and type of business, how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated. All businesses must have regard to the Coronavirus Regulations and the Statutory Guidance and must take all reasonable measures to keep people safe as the 2 metre physical distancing duty is enshrined in Welsh Law.
We have also urged employers to be as flexible as possible with regards to individuals’ personal circumstances during the pandemic.
A risk assessment tool has been developed to help people working to see if they are at higher risk of developing more serious symptoms if they come into contact with Coronavirus (COVID-19). It helps people to consider their personal risk factors for Coronavirus (COVID-19) and suggests how to stay safe.
What are my options if I feel I am being treated unfairly by my employer/workplace setting?
If employees encounter difficulties at work we are advising that they liaise with their union, if a member, or they may wish to engage with ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service), who offer free advice to employers and employees alike, in resolving disputes. Their free helpline number is 0300 123 1100.
If you feel that you have been treated unfairly by your employer, or somebody who gives you a service, then the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) offers a free advice service which you can access by calling 0808 800 0082, by text phone on 0808 800 0084 or by visiting their website.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission have a whistleblowing form for reporting breaches of Equality and Human Rights law by employers.
Wales Trade Union Congress (TUC) Cymru has also launched a Whistleblowing Online hotline for any worker who may wish to report health and safety concerns. Persons do not have to be a member of a union to access this service.
I need to use public transport to travel to work. How can I do this safely?
Wherever possible you should work from home. If this is not possible you should talk to your employer about working arrangements to minimise your risk. Discuss your working hours with your employer and try to use public transport off peak. Ensure you wear a face covering, avoid touching surfaces and use hand sanitiser/wash your hands when you arrive at your destination.
My GP is advising that because of my medical condition I shouldn’t return to work. Will I be able to get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?
If your doctor has advised that you should not return to work due to your health condition they will need to provide you with a fit note for the purposes of claiming SSP.
Why has the advice for children shielding changed?
Separately to the change to advice to pause shielding, new evidence and experience of the COVID-19 indicates that not all those children and young people who had been previously advised to shield need to do so. This means that we need to review the Shielding Patients List to ensure we remove any children who do not need to shield in case we need to reintroduce shielding again in the future. It is very important we do not ask people to shield unnecessarily. Guidance produced by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health was considered and endorsed by the Chief Medical Officers of the 4 UK nations collectively.
Paediatricians and GPs will be reviewing the records of children who have been shielding to assess whether they need to remain on the Shielding Patients List.
My GP has informed me that my child/dependent will remain on the Shielding Patients List. Can they return to school/their childcare setting in September?
Your child is remaining on the Shielding Patients List so that if there is an increase in coronavirus in our communities and we need to reinstate shielding advice we are able to contact you. For now, there is no need to shield and therefore all children, including those who remain on the Shielded Patients List, can return to school/their childcare setting.
Some children and parents may be anxious about returning. We recommend parents discuss their concerns with their local authority and school/setting, who can provide reassurance of the measures they are putting in place to reduce the risk.
I am on the Shielding Patient’s List, can my child return to school?
Yes. As you have been advised that there is no longer a need for you to shield, it is also the case that others in the household can return to work and school.
I was relying on food boxes. What do I do now that they have stopped?
If you are unable to go shopping yourself or receive support from friends, relatives, neighbours or volunteers, priority supermarket delivery slots will continue to be available to you.
Many supermarkets also offer food boxes you can order for delivery to your door. Most have also introduced various e-payment methods to remove the need for access to cash if other people are shopping for you. Find out more on alternative options.
How do I find a volunteer to help me with shopping?
You can contact your local authority who can put you in touch with local voluntary organisations to arrange a volunteer to help you.
Can I still get my medicine delivered?
The volunteer medicine delivery scheme will continue to be available until the end of September.
If you do not feel ready or able to collect your own prescriptions you can:
- Ask someone to pick up your prescription from your local pharmacy to help (this is the best option).
- If you do not have anyone who can help, telephone your pharmacy; let them know you are in a high-risk group and speak to them about how they can help with your prescription. We are asking community pharmacies to ensure that they prioritise medicines delivery slots for those who have the greatest need.
You may also need to arrange any special medication prescribed to you by your hospital care team to be collected or delivered to you.