Families' relief as limits on care home visits scrapped from next week

27 January 2022, 08:14 | Updated: 27 January 2022, 10:15

Limits on care home visitors scrapped
Limits on care home visitors scrapped. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Residents in care homes can receive unlimited visitors from Monday as restrictions put in place to slow the spread of Omicron are eased.

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Self-isolation periods for residents will also be reduced from 14 days to 10 for those who test positive, with further reductions if they test negative on days five and six.

The testing regime for care workers has is also set to under go changes from February 16, with pre-shift lateral flow tests replacing the current system involving weekly asymptomatic PCR tests.

Care homes will only have to follow outbreak management rules for 14 rather than 28 days.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said today: "I know how vital companionship is to those living in care homes and the positive difference visits make, which is why we continued to allow three named visitors and an essential care giver under Plan B measures.

"Thanks to the progress we have made, I am delighted that care home restrictions can now be eased further allowing residents to see more of their loved ones."

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The change to the rules comes as data reveals 86.5% of care home residents have now had a booster vaccination.

Care minister Gillian Keegan added: "Thanks to the continued success of the vaccine rollout, I am delighted we can ease restrictions in care settings and allow unlimited visits to ensure people living in care homes see all their family and friends.

"The changes announced today are backed by scientists, ensuring we all have more freedoms from coronavirus, including care home residents and their families."

The mask mandate and the requirement for vaccine passports has been scrapped in England today.

Masks will also no longer be required by law in most indoor venues, although people are encouraged to still wear them if they are in crowded and enclosed spaces with people they do not normally meet.

The requirement to work from home if possible, which was also part of England's Plan B measures, was lifted last week.

Hospital admissions are stabilising across the UK whilst Omicron infections are beginning to decline and the number of patients in intensive care continues to fall.

However some measures remain in place.

Face coverings must still be worn in health and care settings, including primary care - for example, doctors' surgeries - and pharmacies.

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There is also still a legal requirement for those with Covid to self-isolate for 10 days, although they can end their quarantine after five full days if they get two negative lateral flow tests.

Local public health directors can still recommend face masks in communal areas of education settings as long as doing so is proportionate and temporary.

Businesses - for example, supermarkets or public transport operators - can also choose to encourage their customers to wear face masks, and venues can still choose to use the NHS Covid pass.

The Government is expected to set out its long-term strategy for living with Covid - which is expected to include scrapping the legal requirement to self-isolate - in the coming months