Care home visits to increase as country comes out of national lockdown, health minister suggests

Hopes that care home visits can increase before residents receive their second Covid jab, health minister suggests.

Thursday, 18th February 2021, 6:36 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th February 2021, 6:40 pm

Helen Whately, health minister, said she hopes care home visits can increase and return to some form of normality when national lockdown restrictions begin to ease once residents have had their first Covid vaccine doses.

Speaking this morning (February 18), she said it’s hoped care homes can ‘open up cautiously and carefully’ before the second jabs have been given.

Visiting is currently allowed at care homes but not in the normal manner – with families using screens, visiting pods or through windows where these facilities aren’t available.

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Care home visits to increase as country comes out of national lockdown, health minister suggests Photo by Yui Mok/PA Wire

When rules do start to relax, visitors to care homes would still be expected to wear PPE to protect residents.

The health minister told BBC Breakfast: “There is still a way to go to see, for instance, whether the vaccine stops people from being infectious and how it plays through.

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“Visiting will be taken step by step and we will, for instance, when people come back to more normal visiting, still be asking people to use PPE and follow those kinds of procedures.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to give a ‘road map’ out of lockdown on Monday, February 22, where he is expected to outline the country’s next steps.

In an interview with Sky News, she added: “What I want to do as we come out of the national lockdown is also increase the amount of visiting.

“I don’t see that we have to wait for the second vaccination dose, I want us to open up sooner than that.

“I will say with this, as with this and generally as we come out of lockdown, we do have to be cautious. Most residents in care homes have only had their first dose, and some of them only very recently, so it will be step by step.

"I’m determined so that we can see people go back to even if it’s to be able to hold hands again and see somebody who you haven’t been able to see very much in the last few months and over the last year – I really want to make that happen again.”

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