HIGH-risk kids will no longer have to shield from Covid from next month, after ministers relaxed the rules.
Nearly 100,000 youngsters were deemed clinically extremely vulnerable to the bug and told to isolate indoors during the pandemic.
It included children with conditions such as asthma, diabetes, epilepsy and kidney disease.
But the majority will soon be able to leave their home and return to school or nursery after July 31
Only those continuing to receive cancer treatment or who have a compromised immune system will continue to shield.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jenny Harries, said: “I do not underestimate the difficulty of children having to stay indoors and to only have limited contact with family and friends for such a long time.
“As our understanding of this novel virus has developed, evidence shows most children and young people are at low risk of serious illness and will no longer be advised to shield after July.
“Families who are uncertain about whether shielding is right for their child in the future will want to discuss this with their doctor, who will be best placed to determine the most appropriate care.
“These Officials said youngsters will only be removed from the list by their GP or specialist doctor following consultation with the child and their family.”
Specialists and GPs will contact children and their families to discuss the move in the coming weeks.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health guidance published last month said many children with conditions such as cerebral palsy and scoliosis should no longer be shielded, adding that the benefits of school “in terms of access to therapies and developmental support” outweigh the risk of infection.
It said: “Children and young people who are cared for just in primary care are very unlikely to need to continue to shield.”
But some very high risk kids, such as those who have had transplants and children having cancer treatment, should remain indoors.
Data from NHS Digital shows that some 92,633 children under the age of 18 were on the shielded list.
Dr Mike Linney, registrar at the RCPCH, said: “Lockdown has been tough on children generally, but especially for those who have been shielding.
“It’s been a long haul for thousands of families, and we hope this announcement brings some relief.
“Fortunately children are less affected by Covid-19. This appears to be the case not just in the UK but worldwide.
“However, they have suffered from the social effects of lockdown, isolation, and school closures.
“We know that many families who have been shielding will have concerns.
“The important point of this guidance is that paediatricians and specialist doctors now have better information to discuss shielding with patients and their families.
“Children under the sole care of a GP are very unlikely to need to continue shielding, but if you are worried, seek reassurance.
“Should we face a second wave, this guidance will allow us to make better decisions about who needs to shield.
“It was right to be cautious when we knew so little about the virus, but we now have a lot of evidence to guide us.
“We can be confident that the vast majority of children and young people don’t need to shield.”