Leaders have called for safety requirements to remain in place for care homes after the Prime Minister announced the lifting of lockdown restrictions on 19 July.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) said PPE, social distancing and some restrictions on visiting should remain in place beyond the lifting of restrictions elsewhere.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “Everyone wants to get life back to normal, but as the Prime Minister said at the start of his announcement, we are ‘very far from the end of dealing with this virus’.
“Cases are still rising and those people of all ages being looked after in care and nursing homes, as well as in their own homes, remain the most vulnerable to COVID-19.
“I would therefore say that masks should remain compulsory for all those working in and visiting care settings for the foreseeable future.
“I also believe that care settings have to remain vigilant and careful around visiting and not let it become a free for all.
“In case people need reminding, we have lost 32,000 people in care and nursing homes to COVID-19 – we don’t want to lose any more mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles or friends.
“Yes, we welcome a return to some freedoms but believe me, nobody in the social care sector is demob happy quite yet.”
Kathryn Smith, Chief Executive of the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), said it was important to respect the views of individual residents, family members and staff who may be nervous of a sudden change in policy.
“Many will want to see a continuation of social distancing, for instance, as well as perhaps choosing to continue with personal protective equipment such as masks,” Kathryn said.
The SCIE head also noted it was “positive” to see an end to some of the isolation care homes had been feeling.
The comments came after Prime Minister said the legal requirements for PPE and social distancing would be removed as well as limits on the number of people in indoor and outdoor gatherings.
In his announcement yesterday, the PM said the government would also remove limits on named visitors to care homes.
Speaking ahead of Mr Johnson’s announcement, Care Minister Helen Whately told Sky News there would “still have to be precautions around care homes”.
Ms Whately hinted that the requirement to wear face masks in health and care settings would also remain.
The DHSC has been approached for comment.