NEW rules for Brits in care homes and their families will come into force from today sparking joy up and down the country.
There will be no limit on the number of visitors allowed into care homes and self-isolation periods will be cut in a huge boost for elderly and vulnerable Brits who have faced isolation since March 2020.
As Omicron spread through the UK last month, it was announced care home residents would only be allowed three named people who can visit regularly.
Staff testing was also ramped up, to three lateral flow tests per week, as well as a weekly PCR.
But now restrictions will be loosened as England finally leaves Plan B behind.
From Monday, January 31, there will be no limit on the number of visitors allowed into care homes and self-isolation periods will be cut, the Department for Health says.
Care homes will only have to follow outbreak management rules for 14 rather than 28 days.
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Quarantine will be cut from 15 days to 10 days for those who test positive – with further reductions if they test negative on days five and six.
Isolation periods for those in care following an emergency hospital visit are also being reduced from 14 to 10 days.
In addition, workers will be asked to start using lateral flow tests before their shifts instead of weekly PCR tests from February 16.
Essential care givers should continue to be able to visit homes even during periods of outbreak affecting a care home.
Last week Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: "I know how vital companionship is to those living in care homes and the positive difference visits make, which is why we continued to allow three named visitors and an essential care giver under Plan B measures.
"Thanks to the progress we have made, I am delighted that care home restrictions can now be eased further, allowing residents to see more of their loved ones."
And Care minister Gillian Keegan said: "Thanks to the continued success of the vaccine rollout, I am delighted we can ease restrictions in care settings and allow unlimited visits to ensure people living in care homes see all their family and friends.
"The changes announced today are backed by scientists, ensuring we all have more freedoms from coronavirus, including care home residents and their families."
MORE RULE CHANGES TO COME
Meanwhile, isolation rules for all Brits are set to expire on March 24 – or sooner – meaning people who test positive for Covid are not legally obliged to isolate.
Currently, everyone who tests positive for the virus must quarantine at home for at least five full days – and this is NOT changing.
If you return two negative lateral flow swabs on days five and six you can then leave isolation early.
Fully vaccinated Brits who come into contact with an infected person should test daily but don't have to isolate so long as they remain negative.
And unvaccinated people who are close contacts of Covid sufferers must go into quarantine for 10 days.
There are fines of up to £10,000 for flouting the laws.
It could be scrapped in March however if cases remain low and no more severe variants emerged.
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