TENS of thousands of vulnerable residents in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole are being advised not to meet friends and family inside, despite coronavirus lockdown rules coming to an end.

Clinically extremely vulnerable people – who were told to shield from March last year until just a few months ago – have been issued new Government guidance which includes avoiding the unvaccinated and continuing to meet people outside.

Disability equality charity Scope said that while lots of people who have been identified as vulnerable during the pandemic are looking forward to the country opening up, many are still “extremely concerned”.

NHS Digital figures show 26,810 patients in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole were classed as clinically extremely vulnerable as of July 6.

Of them, 21 per cent were aged between 80-89 – the largest proportion of all age groups.

There were also 280 children on the list, who will be subject to this new guidance, as well as a further 2,970 patients aged 90 and over.

Though social distancing restrictions came to an end on Monday, July 19, 3.8 million clinically extremely vulnerable people across England have been issued separate advice.

It suggests they should meet others outdoors wherever possible to reduce the risk of airborne transmission, and ensure that indoor spaces are well ventilated.

Other suggested measures include “considering whether you and those you are meeting have been vaccinated”, as well as asking friends and family to take a lateral flow test before visiting.

Though they will be advised to follow the guidance that applies to the rest of the population for shopping, they may still wish to do so at "quieter times", the guidance says.

Louise Rubin, Scope's head of policy and campaigns, said those impacted feel they are on their own, having to rely on others taking responsibility, and without the support to keep themselves safe.

She questioned why the Government was taking away vital assistance when Prime Minister Boris Johnson had said the pandemic was not over.

Ms Rubin added: “Those most at risk have no concrete or consistent protections at work. Supermarket priority slots have been taken away. Furlough is due to come to an end.

“This guidance is essentially asking people to shield, without offering even the minimal support which has been available throughout the pandemic.”

Steven McIntosh, executive director of advocacy and communications at Macmillan Cancer Support, said many people with cancer were “desperately worried” about how they will stay safe.