Boris Johnson has announced a new national lockdown in a bid to curb the surge in coronavirus cases, attributed to a particularly infectious variant.
Under the rules, people in England may not leave the house except in limited circumstances, to go to work if they cannot do so from home or if they are shopping for essentials.
Exercise with one other person outdoors will be permitted, and you may leave home to provide care to a vulnerable person or to attend a medical appointment or for a medical emergency. International travel is also banned unless for work.
Close-contact indoor visits are prohibited across English care homes, however visits to care homes however can take place with arrangements such as safe effective screens, visiting pods, or behind windows.
Residents are forbidden to meet people indoors on a visit out, such as visiting relatives in the family home.
Care homes with outbreaks of the coronavirus will not be allowed to receive visitors. However, visits under exceptional circumstances, such as end-of-life visits, will be able to continue in all circumstances.
Vic Rayner, executive director of the National Care Forum, which represents not-for-profit providers, said: “The move away from close-contact visits is a terrible blow for residents across the country.
“However it is very important and positive that visiting remains firmly on the agenda and homes across the country will be working hard with loved ones to ensure wherever possible visits can continue.
“When we emerge from this lockdown it is imperative that we put care home residents’ needs at the top of our priority list and ensure meaningful visits can resume.”
Fiona Carragher, director of research and influencing at the Alzheimer’s Society, said many residents have still not been able to properly see or hug their loved ones.
The charity is calling for the Government to “act with compassion” and prioritise the safe continuation of meaningful visits.
She said: “After a dreadful year for people with dementia, worst hit by the virus, we are still having to stress that mental health plays as much of a role in people’s survival as physical.
“The large majority of people in care homes with dementia do not have time on their side. Contact with their families isn’t just for comfort but fundamental to their care – and most important of all, their reason for living.
“The Government must do everything it can to keep people in care homes safe from the virus, but must act with compassion to prioritise meaningful visits continuing in a safe way, allowing residents to have the one thing that matters most to them in their final days.”