A Senedd Member has raised concerns regarding the announcement that people who are shielding from Covid-19 will be able to meet others and exercise outdoors from tomorrow.
The Welsh Government confirmed this morning that those who had been shielding from Coronavirus could now exercise outdoors from Monday, following similar advice being issued to vulnerable people in England.
There are two changes to the advice for this group:
- Outdoor exercise is unlimited, as long as individuals strictly follow social distancing rules and hygiene practices.
- Those who are shielding can meet outside with people from another household – but should not go into another person’s house or share food with them.
However, Plaid Cymru MS Delyth Jewell questioned why the guidance was changing for the group of “extremely vulnerable people” whilst the R rate had not changed. The First Minister confirmed on Friday that the rate of transmission was still between 0.7 and 1.
“The last few months have been incredibly challenging for those who have had to shield,” Delyth Jewell said.
“They have had to go months without leaving the house and months without seeing loved ones. The huge sacrifices they have made must be recognised.
“However, 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?”
Delyth Jewell, who is Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Minister for Local Government, also questioned why the news was sent to journalists just a day before the change, and not the people the change would impact.
“And why was this change in policy communicated to the press before the very people it will effect?” she asked.
“Letters should have been sent to keep shielding people updated weeks ago, so that they could prepare for any changes. This will affect their lives hugely. Telling the press first and people second was both wrong and disappointing. No one should have found out about this change through reading confused reports in the press.
“Without a robust test and trace system in place, we cannot possibly know where the virus is spreading in our communities. Loosening the lockdown without such a system in place risks a second wave. Getting track and trace right must continue to be the Welsh Government’s top priority going forward before we can even think about easing restrictions further.”
Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething said that he was “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 15 June, he said. All who are shielding will receive a letter from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales in the coming fortnight setting out the next steps.