Care home residents to be allowed one regular visitor indoors under plans to ease lockdown
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Residents in Suffolk care homes will be able to hold the hands of a loved one indoors from March 8, under new plans to ease lockdown restrictions in England.
The one named regular visitor will be required to take a coronavirus lateral flow test before entering and must be in full personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times.
They will be asked not to hug or kiss their relatives; however hand holding will be allowed.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was "pleased" that care home residents will soon be able to be "carefully and safely" reunited with loved ones.
He said: “This is just the first step to getting back to where we want to be. We need to make sure we keep the infection rate down, to allow greater visiting in a step-by-step way in the future.”
Outdoor visits will continue, as well as those inside pods or behind screens, which is being carried out at Brierfield Residential Home in Felixstowe.
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An outdoor pod was installed in the care home's garden by Skyline Whitespace back in November last year, after the month-long lockdown came to an end.
It has since been booked out by a care home resident and their loved ones, to allow them to see their family safely.
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The news of the indoor visiting comes after the Government met its target to offer all residents in care homes a vaccine by Monday, February 15.
Meanwhile, 15million people have now received the vaccine in the UK, as the jab is rolled out to the over-65s and the clinically vulnerable.
As the vaccines are believed to become effective after three weeks, all those who accepted a vaccine in care homes by March 8 should have a good level of protection from Covid-19.
However, vaccination will not be a condition of care home visiting, but visits will be suspended if any local outbreaks occur, to ensure the continued safety of staff and residents.
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to outline his "road map" out of the national lockdown on Monday, with schools expected to reopen first and non-essential shops in the weeks after.