Scots will be able to visit elderly relatives in care homes from next month with strict measures in place, the health secretary has said.
From July 3, a single “named key visitor” can visit a care home resident provided the home has been Covid-free for at least 28 days.
The “phased” reintroduction of care home visits will at first only allow outdoor meetings, with social distancing observed and the visitor wearing a face covering.
Covid-free means either the care home has had no cases of the virus at all over the pandemic, or that nobody living there has had symptoms for at least four weeks.
At present, only essential visits such as those involving end-of-life care are allowed.
But the Scottish Government has now published new guidance showing the stages of how care home visits and communal activity will be reintroduced.
Stage two will allow outdoor or garden visits, beginning from July 3, with the next stage allowing indoor visits of one key visitor and garden visits from multiple visitors.
The third stage will also permit limited use of communal spaces by residents.
The fourth and final phase will include controlled indoor visits, garden visits with children and wider use of communal areas by residents, with appropriate measures still being observed.
Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus briefing, health secretary Jeane Freeman said: “I know these necessary restrictions that were placed on care homes, and the pause on normal activities and routines, have been both difficult and at times distressing for people living in care homes, for their loved ones and for the staff…
“But significant progress has been made and we have seen improvements in the number of care homes with ongoing infections, to the extent that we can now see a cautious, phased return to visiting in care homes when and where it is clinically safe to do so.”