Face-to-face visits in care homes could resume within weeks as England’s lockdown is eased, a minister has suggested.

Care minister Helen Whately told Sky News she wants to see a return to more “normal” visits as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed.

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People would not have to wait for their relatives to receive their second vaccine dose before seeing them, she suggested.

“I really, really want to open up visiting in care homes more. To be clear, we have made sure that visiting can continue even during this national lockdown,” Ms Whately told Sky News.

“But I recognise it’s not the normal kind of visiting, it’s having to use screens or visiting pods or through windows if care homes don’t have those facilities.”

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.”

Ms Whately stressed the need for “caution”, adding: “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 be able to hold hands again and to 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.”

In a later interview with the BBC, the minister said care home visitors would still be expected to wear PPE to protect residents if the rules around visiting are relaxed.



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