Covid: Care home isolation rule axed for low-risk trips in England

Care home residents will be able to leave their home for low-risk trips without having to self-isolate for 14 days afterwards, the government says.

The rules will be relaxed in England from Tuesday, allowing for walks or garden visits without self-isolation.

The government says a fall in Covid cases means it is “much safer” for care home residents to go outside.

The charity John’s Campaign says it is a “chink of light” for residents and their families.

It had threatened the government with legal action over the requirement that care home residents self-isolate for 14 days following any visit out.

There are different rules in the UK’s devolved nations, with residents in Wales able to leave homes – where there is no Covid outbreak – without isolating on their return.

Scotland’s guidance for care homes allows for residents to see loved ones outside of the care home, while rules for care homes in Northern Ireland vary by region.

Under the changes in England, residents on trips out must be accompanied by either a member of staff or one of their two nominated visitors and they must follow social distancing throughout.

They cannot meet in groups or go indoors, except for the use of toilets, and public transport should be avoided where possible.

An exemption is in place for those who wish to vote in person in the local elections on 6 May, the government says.

Only trips deemed “low risk” are exempt from the self-isolation rule, so this does not include activities such as overnight visits.

The Department of Health and Social Care said updated guidance would be published in due course.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “pleased” residents can “now leave their homes to reunite with their loved ones outdoors”.

“With the data continuing to head in the right direction and as restrictions ease, it is my priority to keep increasing visits for residents in the coming weeks in a safe and controlled way,” he said.

CHAT AND SPIN RADIO