Report by Jonathan Brown
The family of a 92-year-old man - who died in a Doncaster care home after months of being unable to see his loved ones - say plans to allow safe indoor visits could save lives.
It comes as the Government said it hoped to ease the restrictions on visits next month - in a move the Health Secretary described as "the first step to getting back to where we want to be"
Care home residents will be allowed to hold hands with loved ones from March 8 under the government’s plan to ease Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in England.
Residents will be allowed one person to regularly visit them, as measures begin to loosen across the country.
Visitors will be required to take a coronavirus lateral flow test before entry and personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn.
The Department of Health said the relaxation of the restrictions represented a balance between the risk of infection and the importance of visiting for the mental and physical wellbeing of care home residents and their families.
Mr Hancock said: “I know how important visiting a loved one is and I’m pleased we will soon be in a position for people to be carefully and safely reunited with loved ones who live in care homes.
“This is just the first step to getting back to where we want to be.
"We need to make sure we keep the infection rate down, to allow greater visiting in a step by step way in the future.”
Care Minister Helen Whately added: “One of the hardest things during this pandemic has been seeing families desperate to be reunited with their loved ones kept apart and I absolutely want to bring them back together.
“We had to restrict the majority of visiting when the new variant was discovered but we have done all we can to enable visits to continue in some form.
"That includes providing funding towards costs of screens and PPE.
“As we begin to open up we will move step by step to increase visits while remembering we are still in the grip of a global pandemic.”