In effect from today, restrictions to visiting someone in a hospital or care home setting will be eased.
These new arrangements will however have various conditions in place to ensure that visiting can be carried out while still managing the risk of COVIS-19.
These condition will include that the persons in charge of the hospital and care facilities, will make the decision on a day by day basis as to if it’s appropriate and safe to allow visitors.
Where visiting is permitted, all visitors will be required to wear a face masks/covering and observe Public Health advice at all times.
More changes to the regulations include:
- In both general wards and intensive care units, one visitor will now be permitted per patient.
- In Covid-19 free care homes one person will be permitted access to visit at any one time and if necessary a second person if required will be accommodated where possible, as long as this can be carried out safely and under the usual social distancing requirements.
- Birth partners will be facilitated to accompany women to pregnancy dating scans, anomaly scans, early pregnancy clinic and fetal medicine appointments, for induction of labour, the duration of labour and for birth as well as to visit in antenatal and postnatal wards as appropriate.
Health Minister Robin Swann said: “I understand that the temporary restrictions on visiting have been a particularly difficult consequence of Covid-19. However they were necessary in limiting the spread of the virus. I am acutely aware that there are many families yearning to see a loved one, either in hospital or in our care homes.
“As such I tasked officials, headed up by my Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), Professor Charlotte McArdle, to review the current visiting guidance.
“Following a review of the evidence, the Strategic Clinical Advisory Cell (SCAC) and CNO have published revised visiting guidance for all Health and Social Care Trust inpatient services including maternity services, mental health and learning disability inpatient services, care homes and hospices. This is effective from Monday 6 July.
“While today’s announcement will be welcome news, we must remain mindful of the risk of this virus and as such virtual visiting is the preferred option where possible. If this is not possible then social distancing and hand washing remain vital.”
The changes to the visiting guidance will be applied as long as the surge level and the Northern Ireland Executive five step approach permits and anyone showing or experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19 or any other infection should not visit, even if these symptoms are mild and unconfirmed.