Three north-east councils have ordered care homes to go into lockdown after a spike in coronavirus cases.
ITV News reported that Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland councils were among local authorities issuing letters requiring care homes to cancel family visits.
The letter from Newcastle City Council stated: “Due to the increase in infection rates we are now asking that homes temporarily suspend non-essential visits to support infection prevention and control.”
An email sent by Gateshead Council seen by ITV News advised that all bar end of life visits be stopped.
North Tyneside Council has also ended all but essential care home visits while similar announcements have included Worcestershire County Council, Wolverhampton City Council, Caerphilly, Wales and parts of Coventry.
Care England’s Chief Executive Professor Martin Green OBE told ITV News: “The news that some local authorities are now sending out statements banning visits is another example of the disarray within government policy on this issue.
“It is impossible for care homes to know what to do when the government issues national guidance on visiting, which is then countermanded by local authorities.”
Rachel Beckett, chair of north-east based Wellburn Care, said current care home visiting guidance had left too much room for interpretation.
A Department of Health of Social Care spokesperson said: “We know that limiting visits in care homes has been difficult for many families and residents who want to see their loved ones.
“Our first priority is to prevent infections in care homes, and this means that visiting should still be restricted with alternatives sought wherever possible.
“Visiting policies are a decision for the care home provider and should be tailored to the individual care home and based on the advice from local public health leads, taking into account local risks in their area.”