Christmas advice for people who were shielding issued by Chief Medical Officer Dr Frank Atherton
Wales’ Chief Medical Officer has created some advice for Christmas aimed at those who were shielding earlier in the year.
Dr Atherton says, “You can choose to be part of a Christmas bubble if you are clinically extremely vulnerable, but it does involve greater risks for you as you will be increasing the number of people you have contact with.”
“You will minimise your risk of infection if you limit social contact with people that you do not live with. It is important that you and the other people in your Christmas bubble consider these risks carefully before agreeing to form a bubble. Forming a Christmas bubble is a personal choice and should be balanced against the increased risk of infection.”
“You can choose to be part of a Christmas bubble if you are clinically extremely vulnerable, but it does involve greater risks for you as you will be increasing the number of people you have contact with. You will minimise your risk of infection if you limit social contact with people that you do not live with. It is important that you and the other people in your Christmas bubble consider these risks carefully before agreeing to form a bubble. Forming a Christmas bubble is a personal choice and should be balanced against the increased risk of infection.”
The advice notes that there may be a lot of “expectations and pressure” around celebrating Christmas together, but you “should feel comfortable to do what is right for you over this period”.
He adds, “To do that, the other people in your Christmas bubble need to understand your needs and increased risk. They must also be extra vigilant in the days before you get together, reducing any unnecessary contact with people, especially as some people with the virus have no symptoms.”
Were you previous shielding? Or know someone who was?
The Chief Medical Officer for Wales has provided special advice for people who were shielding about mixing over Christmas.
Read that advice on our website and watch this message from @CMOWales 👇https://t.co/spRvRqfyhh pic.twitter.com/wv86hhfUvs
— Welsh Government (@WelshGovernment) December 17, 2020
A list of Frequently Asked Questions and related answers has also been published by the Welsh Government, copied below for completeness:
I was previously shielding, can I be part of a Christmas Bubble?
Yes, you can do whatever everyone else in Wales can do, but you do need to think carefully about whether a Christmas bubble is the right thing for you as it will increase your risk of infection.
Please refer to the guidance for more information: making a Christmas bubble with friends and family.
I was previously shielding but I want to be part of a Christmas bubble, how can I reduce my risk?
You can never completely eliminate all risk, but there is a lot you can do to minimise your risk when spending time with others. The best thing is always to go back to basics:
- Sticking to the rules. The regulations say 2 households and for 5 days then follow this – these levels have been chosen for a reason!
- Washing or sanitising hands regularly and not touching your face.
- Maintaining a 2 metre distance from those you do not live with – even when indoors and with your Christmas bubble. People forget this when they relax – please be vigilant and keep this distance.
- At times where a 2 metre distance cannot be maintained, use a face covering.
- Cleaning surfaces regularly where they have been touched by others – think banisters, door handles, serving spoons.
- Ensure anywhere you spend time is well ventilated.
- Avoid sharing a car with another person outside your household.
Plan ahead and discuss arrangements with those in your Christmas bubble in advance. Try not to go along with plans just to make others feel happy or not to create a fuss. It’s important you only do what you are comfortable to do and that those around you understand and help to minimise your risk.
I have a relative who was previously shielding, how can I ensure they are involved in celebrating safely?
It will be important that everyone is flexible and willing to adapt this Christmas, particularly as we will all likely need to think of others when making arrangements. This is particularly the case if you have a family member or friend who is either high risk or clinically extremely vulnerable.
Speak with them as soon as you can about their preferences for taking part in festivities. If they do not feel comfortable or able to be part of your Christmas bubble, consider alternative ways to include them, either by meeting for a socially distant walk or a virtual get together.
Where you have someone joining your bubble who is high risk you should consider:
- all members of the bubble reducing contacts to an absolute minimum for the 10 days before forming a bubble – this will minimise the risk of bringing the virus into the bubble
- seating arrangements to allow for a 2 metre distance, particularly for the Clinically extremely vulnerable person’s household
- where separate toilets facilities are not possible, provide cleaning materials to allow handles and areas touched regularly to be cleaned after each use and do not share hand towels.
- increase cleaning of surfaces and handles indoors and avoid using shared items e.g. serving spoons
- ventilate areas wherever possible to allow a good flow of air
- check in with the family member/friend to ensure they are comfortable with the arrangements and be adaptable
The Christmas bubble period ends on 27 December and Welsh Government notes this guidance only applies until this date.