Rules on care home visits could be relaxed to allow people to hold hands with relatives before they have received their second vaccine dose, the health minister has indicated.
With a 12-week delay between the first and second doses, Helen Whately said: “I want us to open up sooner than that”, suggesting that some of the restrictions could be eased in the coming months.
She said “even if it’s to be able to hold hands again … I really want to make that happen”.
Reaction from Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, to the Guardian’s view on two-party politics:
Health minister Helen Whately said visitors to care homes would still be expected to wear PPE to protect residents even if visiting rules are relaxed (see here for earlier comments).
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Whately said:
There is still a way to go to see, for instance, whether the vaccine stops people from being infectious and how it plays through. Visiting will be taken step by step and we will, for instance, when people come back to more normal visiting, still be asking people to use PPE and follow those kinds of procedures.
Boris Johnson is being urged to launch a compensation scheme for frontline workers who are suffering from the long-term effects of Covid-19.
The all-party parliamentary group on coronavirus said the prime minister should recognise long Covid as an occupational disease, saying some sufferers have found it hard to return to work.
The shadow chancellor, Anneliese Dodds, said that “eye-watering” amounts of money had been “wasted and misdirected” by the government during the pandemic.
“The big question is has that spending gone in the right places?” Dodds said, speaking on the Today programme.
Unfortunately we’ve seen eye-watering amounts of that money wasted and misdirected. It does not have to be like this and Labour has been very clear that we must target that spending so it really does support jobs.
Health minister Helen Whately has been doing the media rounds this morning. The Faversham and Mid Kent MP said she hopes care home visits can increase once residents have had their first vaccine doses.
Speaking to Sky News, she said:
I really, really want to open up visiting in care homes more. To be clear, we have made sure that visiting can continue even during this national lockdown but I recognise it’s not the normal kind of visiting – it’s having to use screens, or visiting pods, or through windows of care homes that don’t have those facilities. Also, we have put funding into social care to help care homes have these facilities, and have extra staff if they need to supervise. What I want to do as we come out of the national lockdown is also increase the amount of visiting. I don’t see that we have to wait for the second vaccination dose, I want us to open up sooner than that.
Years of Tory rule to blame for how Covid has hit UK, Starmer to say
Good morning everyone. I will be running the blog today so feel free to drop me a message on Twitter with any story tips.
The Labour leader, who has faced criticism from some for failing to articulate a clear political vision, will accuse the Tories of creating an “insecure and unequal economy” that has been “cruelly exposed by the virus”.
He will say:
This must now be a moment to think again about the country that we want to be. A call to arms – like the Beveridge Report was in the 1940s.
The virtual address comes amid speculation that the virus is now spreading most among primary-age children and young people in England.
But prevalence remains high, with researchers suggesting Covid is now most commonly found among 5- to 12-year-olds and 18- to 24-year-olds in England.
Asked about press reports that parents could be asked to test their children at home, health minister Helen Whately told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
I’m not going to get drawn into that, there is work in progress looking at how testing can support schools to come back… There’s already testing going on in schools where you have children of key workers and teachers in schools at the moment because schools aren’t completely closed, and there is work going on at the moment about the details of the return to schools, and there will be more said about that next week.
Here is the agenda for the day:
11.00: Keir Starmer speech on the economy – virtual
11.00: Weekly test and trace figures for England published
12.15: Scottish government coronavirus briefing expected
14.00: Weekly Covid-19 surveillance report from Public Health England
1400: Weekly breakdown of Covid-19 vaccination statistics for England by age and area from NHS England
Here is our global coronavirus live blog for Covid-related news from around the world: