Government Backs Down on Rule Forcing Care Home Residents to Self-Isolate After Trips in England

The Government has backed down on a rule forcing care home residents who go on outdoor visits to self-isolate for two weeks afterwards. But the new guidance, which has yet to be released in full, may vary for different areas. The Guardian has the story.

A rule forcing care home residents who go on any sort of outside visit to then spend two weeks in their room is being scrapped, the Government announces today. Campaigners have hailed the reversal, with one group saying the regulation had turned “care homes into prisons”.

Under new guidance to begin from Tuesday, people living in care homes in England will not have to self-isolate if they leave the home to be in the garden of a relative or friend, or to visit outdoor spaces such as parks and beaches.

They must be accompanied by either a care worker or a named visitor, and must socially distance when away from the home. They cannot meet in groups, as currently permitted for others outside, and can go indoors only to use toilets.

The full guidance has not yet been set out, and could vary for areas with high or fast-rising levels of coronavirus infection, or the presence of variants of the virus being monitored by the Government.

John’s Campaign, which pushes for better visiting rights, launched a legal challenge arguing that the mandatory self-isolation brought in three weeks ago, regardless of the age or health of the individual, was discriminatory and unlawful.

Nicci Gerrard from John’s Campaign said the change of stance, announced by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), was “a chink of light for residents of care homes and their families, and a victor for all those people who have been eloquent in their campaign against the 14-day rule”.

She said: “But why did this rule ever exist in the first place – depriving people of their liberty, turning care homes into prison, treating one group of people with such cruelty?”

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: The latest issue of Private Eye (1546) has discovered why Dr Éamonn O’Moore, who leads the Public Health England (PHE) social care response to Covid, favoured self-isolation rules in the first place.

A look at Dr O’Moore’s LinkedIn profile offers an explanation: he writes that he also leads PHE in “other places of detention”, including prisons. No wonder he’s so keen on solitary confinement…

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