LOVED ones visiting care home residents will continue to be hampered by strict measures after July 19, the minister in charge suggested today.
As Boris Johnson prepares to rip up the majority of Covid restrictions, Care Minister Helen Whately said visits could buck the Freedom Day trend.
Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest updates
Government rules still ban more than two close friends or relatives from paying a trip – and recommend hugs are kept to a minimum.
Ms Whately hailed the vaccine rollout for allowing some curbs to be scaled back – but warned it “can’t be completely like normal”.
She said that PPE will continue to be worn in care homes, and was taking “scientific guidance” on the rules for visitors.
In key developments
- The PM will unveil a bonfire of Covid restrictions at a press conference
- Fines for refusing to wear a masks are expected to be scrapped
- The work from home guidance is likely to be dropped after July
- Covid cases soared 161 per cent in two weeks but cases remain low
She told BBC Breakfast this morning: “We have been steadily, opening up and encouraging and allowing visitors to care home over the last few months.
“We even took another step on the 21st of June, on this, because already the vast majority – 99 per cent – of active care home residents have had doses of the vaccine. So already they’re really well protected.
“There will be some further steps on opening up visiting as part of stage four, to take it back even further to normal.
“It can’t be completely like normal there will have to be some infection prevention and control measures.”
Care homes were essentially put on lockdown after the first wave of the pandemic after Covid ran rampant among vulnerable residents.
It has since emerged that not all hospital patients being discharged back into homes were being screened for the disease.
The PM will use a press conference this afternoon to unveil a bonfire of Covid restrictions, including binning mandatory masks.
Social distancing will end indoors, punters won’t need to scan the NHS app to enter shops and the work from home order will end.
Mr Johnson said: “Today we will set out how we can restore people’s freedoms when we reach Step 4.
“But I must stress that the pandemic is not over and that cases will continue to rise over the coming weeks.
“As we begin to learn to live with this virus, we must all continue to carefully manage the risks from Covid and exercise judgement when going about our lives.”
Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said: “So far ‘learning to live with the virus’ had been no more than a ministerial slogan.
“Now we know this is the Government’s strategy, when Sajid Javid addresses the Commons he must explain what level of mortality and cases of long-covid he considers acceptable.”