United Kingdom

Boost for care home residents as they will be allowed up to five named visitors from May 17

Care home residents will be able to receive more guests and make more trips out from May 17 in a boost for some of the people left most isolated by the pandemic.

From next Monday residents will be able to receive visits from up to five named people, up from the current maximum of two, Boris Johnson confirmed tonight.

The Prime Minister said they would also get 'greater freedom' to leave their home without having to self-isolate when they return.

This includes for visits to their GP, dentist and day centres, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

In addition, visits will only halt for 14 days after an outbreak, instead of the current 28. 

But while the rest of the country can look forward to hugs with loved ones from Monday, they remain some way off for those in care homes.

New guidance issued today advises people to make a 'personal choice' about whether to make close personal contact with loved one.

But the guidance does not apply to those in care homes, for whom hand-holding is the most they can look forward to for the time being. 

From next Monday residents will be able to receive visits from up to five named people, up from the current maximum of two, Boris Johnson confirmed tonight.

But while the rest of the country can look forward to hugs with loved ones from Monday, they remain some way off for those in care homes.

Fronting a Downing Street press conference tonight, Mr Johnson confirmed a range of lockdown easements that will start a week today. 

Among them he said: 'We will increase the number of named visitors for those in care homes from two to five, and residents will have greater freedoms to leave their home without having to isolate on their return.'

But the guidance on hugging specifically singles out care home residents as having their own rules on touching.

That guidance states: 'Visitors and residents are advised to keep physical contact to a minimum. 

'Visitors and residents may wish to hold hands, but should bear in mind that any physical contact increases the risk of transmission.

'For this reason there should not be close physical contact such as hugging.'

Care Minister Helen Whately said: 'The measures we have taken during this pandemic have always been to protect our most vulnerable, but I have heard first-hand from those living and working in care homes how difficult the restrictions have been.

'Thanks to the phenomenal success of the vaccine rollout and a reduction in cases across the country, I am pleased we can now take another step towards getting back to normal, while protecting those in care homes from the continued risk of Covid-19.

'The new guidance allows more family and friends to reunite and reduces the need to self-isolate, which I know many have found incredibly challenging. As we turn the tide on this cruel virus I want to make visiting as normal as possible by the summer, and this is an important step on that path.'

Care Minister Helen Whately said: 'Thanks to the phenomenal success of the vaccine rollout and a reduction in cases across the country, I am pleased we can now take another step towards getting back to normal, while protecting those in care homes from the continued risk of Covid-19'

Mr Johnson batted away calls for lockdown to be eased faster tonight as he talked up the latest relaxations - with pints inside the pub back from Monday, along with hugs for friends and family, and staycations.

The PM hailed a 'very considerable step on the road back to normality' as he said planned easings will go ahead in England on May 17.

But flanked by medical and science chiefs Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance at a Downing Street briefing, he urged people to be cautious, saying the country must remain 'vigilant' about fuelling cases and the threat from variants.

Pouring cold water on the idea that the next milestone of June 21 could be brought forward, he insisted it will take time to assess the impact of this wave of loosening.

However, he did attempt to sweeten the pill by hinting that social distancing might be dropped altogether at that point, and the idea of Covid certificates might be abandoned.

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