Restrictions on visitation in care homes and hospitals in Northern Ireland are due to loosen on Friday, the Department of Health has announced.
The new guidance will facilitate increased visiting in health and social care settings in the Western Health and Social Care Trust and will come into effect from this Friday 7 May 2.
The new rules will see hospital patients be allowed one visitor per day, instead of currently one per week, while those in care homes will now be allowed up to two visits per week.
Changes to visitation rules come as hospital admissions have fallen to their lowest levels in months, despite rising numbers of positive cases being seen in Derry & Strabane and some other areas.
The full list of changes to visitation rules across the North can be viewed at http://www.health-ni.gov.uk/Covid-19-visiting-guidance
Health Minister Robin Swann said: “I fully recognise the importance of visiting for those who are receiving care. I hope this guidance will be widely welcomed.
“It is also important to remember that the threat from COVID-19 remains very real. Everyone has a vital role to play when it comes to safe visiting. That includes social distancing, hand hygiene and not visiting if you are feeling unwell yourself.”
“Visiting was only ever restricted because it was absolutely necessary to do so to protect patients and residents from the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus and subsequent development of COVID-19 infection. Given the progress that has been made against the virus, the time is now right to take steps to carefully re-introduce visiting.”
Commenting on the launch of the new guidance materials, he added: “I welcome the work completed to draw up these updated guidance documents and hope that by implementing them we will take another step along the road to recovery.”