The government in Wales has announced it is easing the restrictions on visiting in care homes as Wales moves to alert level zero.
The relaxation of the rules means visitors and residents will no longer have to wear face masks when they see each other.
There will also be reduced testing for residents and staff.
Residents will no longer need to test on their return to the home after going out on a trip outside the home.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said:
- We have passed the peak of this omicron wave and there are encouraging signs that cases of coronavirus may be starting to stabilise. But we all need to continue taking steps to stay safe – unfortunately the pandemic is not over yet.
- We are moving to alert level 0 and we will retain some important protections, such as face coverings in most indoor public places and risk assessments.
- We can do this thanks to the hard work and efforts of everyone in Wales and the remarkable success of our vaccine and booster programmes. Thank you all.
However although the government has announced the restrictions need to ease, Mario Kreft of Care Forum Wales revealed that as care homes are not insured against Covid-19, some of them may choose not to follow the guidance.
He said: “What we are seeing is an opening up of the care sector. We can’t just do it with visitors without looking at other aspects.
“It isn’t quite as straight-forward as it would seem when you are trying to keep people safe.”
A Welsh government spokesman said: “The updated guidance emphasises the need for people to be supported to have visitors and to go out from care homes in a risk-managed way.
“More routine visiting into and out of care homes may now continue during some outbreaks, depending on public health advice for the specific outbreak.
“In response to the Omicron wave regular testing for health and social care staff was increased to before every shift.
“With case rates on the decline, the move back to alert level zero and the protection the booster programme has provided, we will now recommend reverting back to twice weekly lateral flow testing and, for care home staff, weekly PCR tests.”