HEREFORDSHIRE Council has warned visitors to care homes to stick to Government guidance.

National lockdown measures lift from Monday allowing one nominated person to visit a care home resident.

They will have to follow safety procedures including taking a rapid Covid-19 test (known as Lateral Flow Test) before entering the premises, wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) during their stay, observing social distancing from other residents, visitors and staff, and any other infection control measures at the care home.

Residents will be allowed to hold the hands of their visitor but will be asked not to hug or kiss them in order to reduce the risk of infection.

Outdoor visits, pod and screen visits in care homes will continue where possible, giving residents the opportunity to see more than just their named visitor.

Each care home is expected to operate slightly different visiting arrangements due to the physical nature of each home and the level of demand for visits, but all are recommended to have a booking system for visitors and this means ad hoc or unannounced visits will not be possible.

For more information about the arrangements, please contact the care home directly.

Herefordshire Council’s director for adults and communities Stephen Vickers said: “We know how important visits are to care home residents in Herefordshire and we welcome this cautious first step.

“If everyone follows the government guidance, which is designed to protect our most vulnerable residents, we hope to enable steady and safe progress towards greater access to loved ones in care and eventually see families reunited.

“We know people are very keen to see their relatives and, while the vast majority of care home residents have had one dose of their Covid-19 vaccination, it is still possible for them to catch the virus.

“I want to stress how important it is for visitors, prior to their visit, to take all possible precautions to reduce the risk of them carrying the virus into a care home and passing it on.

"This means following the hand, face, space guidance rigorously.”

All care home residents and social care staff were offered a Covid-19 vaccination by February 15, and scientists believe the vaccines offer a good level of immunity after three weeks.

This means all those accepting a vaccination are expected to have a good level of protection by March 8.

Having a vaccination is not a condition of visiting a relative in a care home but the Government strongly recommends that all visitors take the opportunity to be vaccinated when they are invited through the national programme.

If there is a Covid-19 outbreak in a care home, visits will be suspended until it is safe for them to resume.