Care homes across Essex have been given the green light to allow visitors to return... as long as measures are put in place to keep residents safe. 

Officials at Essex County Council have given the go ahead for care homes to make their own decisions as they now deem the level of infection across the county low enough to go ahead.

Dr Mike Gogarty, director for public health in Essex, has determined in care homes where there is no outbreak of cases and where the home is not rated ‘red’ by the care home hub, care home managers can now decide to re-instate visits.

Southend Council is also following the same policy, with senior councillors urging visitors to wear masks to protect vulnerable patients.

Dr Gogarty said: “This update from the Government marks another step forward in our journey to recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I’m confident that the conditions are right for care homes in Essex to decide how they might reinstate their visiting arrangements.

“It is vital that these visits are managed carefully.”

Homes will be required to carry out a full risk assessment prior to allowing visitors to return and where visits do go ahead, they will be limited to a single, consistent visitor, per resident, wherever possible in order to minimise the risk. 

If an outbreak is suspected at any time, visiting arrangements will be stopped and reviewed immediately.

Trevor Harp, Southend councillor in charge of health and adult social care, added:

“A lot of our care homes are privately owned and it’s now their decision.

“A responsible care home owner should be telling visitors to wear masks. If you’re going to the shop in a mask, you should wear one in a care home.

“They need to be taking all the necessary precautions.

“At the moment it’s under control, but we still need to be cautious.”

The change comes after new advice was issued to councils by the Government.