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Two visitors for care home residents in England by 12 April
3 April 2021, 07:29 | Updated: 4 April 2021, 07:39
Care home residents in England will be allowed two regular indoor visitors - plus babies and young children - from 12 April, the government has announced.
The decision means care home residents will be allowed to see small bubbles of loved ones for the first time in months, given that infants and children will not be counted as one of the two visitors.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the increase in visitor numbers could go ahead thanks to the drop in community infection and the success of the nation's coronavirus vaccine rollout.
The DHSC said visitors will be allowed to hold hands but that personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn, while a negative rapid lateral flow test will also be required from adult visitors before entry is permitted.
Mr Johnson said: "Reuniting family and friends has been a priority each time restrictions have eased, and the next step will be no different.
"I'm particularly pleased to allow residents to have more visitors, including grandchildren, given the isolation and concern felt by so many this past year.
"Thanks to the tireless work of care home staff, and the success of the vaccine rollout, we're able to increase the number of visits in a safe and controlled way."
It comes amid reports that vaccinated Brits could be able to travel abroad and avoid quarantine restrictions under government plans to allow foreign summer holidays.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to signal on Monday that foreign getaway destinations will be ranked under a traffic light system when international travel restrictions ease.
It means those who have been fully vaccinated with two jabs may not have to quarantine on return from medium-risk countries, the Daily Telegraph reported.
They may also be required to take fewer tests after visiting low-risk countries, the newspaper adds.
As millions plan to see friends and family over the Easter weekend, the prime minister urged against people meeting others from different households indoors.
Groups of up to six, or two households, are now able to meet up in parks and gardens after the stay-at-home order ended in England earlier this week, but socialising indoors remains banned to limit the spread of the virus.
Mr Johnson said that the country was not yet at the stage of allowing people to meet indoors as he warned that vaccines do not guarantee "100 per cent protection" from coronavirus.
Elsewhere, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said on Friday it had identified 30 cases of rare blood clot events associated with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine but stressed the benefits "continue to outweigh any risks".
It comes as England's coronavirus R number rose to between 0.8 and 1, according to the latest government figures, compared to a figure of between 0.7 and 0.9 for the whole of the UK last week.
Meanwhile, the Department for Transport said travel bans are to be introduced for visitors from the Philippines, Pakistan, Kenya and Bangladesh, with the countries added to England's so-called red list.