Relatives of all care home residents in England will be able to visit them over the Christmas period if they test negative for coronavirus, the Government has announced.
More than a million tests will be sent to care home providers over the next month which will enable safe indoor visits, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.
It is important for visitors to minimise contact as much as possible and wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to help protect their loved ones, the DHSC added.
An extra 46 million items of free PPE will be sent to Care Quality Commission-registered providers.
Visits will be able to take place across all tiers, and will start on Wednesday.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I know how difficult it has been for people in care homes and their families to be apart for so long. The separation has been painful but has protected residents and staff from this deadly virus.
“I’m so pleased we are now able to help reunite families and more safely allow people to have meaningful contact with their loved ones by Christmas.
“This news has been made possible by the unprecedented strides made in testing technology and capacity, as well as extra personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies.”
Care minister Helen Whately said: “It is impossible to eliminate risk entirely, but now thanks to an enormous expansion of testing capacity and a huge delivery of free PPE we can help to more safely reunite families throughout December.”