Leaders in care have stressed the importance of keeping vulnerable people safe as families are reunited from July 4.
While welcoming the news that lockdown restrictions will be eased next month, social care bosses have also urged vigilance.
Kathryn Smith, CEO of the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), said: “It’s great news that a further easing of lockdown has been announced. It’s what we’ve all been waiting for. But there has to be caution as society opens up again.
“People who access services are part of society and they deserve to live in communities, playing their part in those communities. For now though, it’s important to balance that with the need to keep people safe.”
She continued: “We do not want a return to the situation where care homes and other care settings become incubators of COVID-19.
“We need a constant supply of PPE and regular testing in care settings. The virus hasn’t changed and neither has the possibility that many care users are more vulnerable to it than most of the population. Our sector needs support through this change, however welcome we find it.”
Boris Johnson told the House of Commons yesterday that, from July 4, pubs, hotels, cafes, cinemas and restaurants would reopen.
Two households of any size will also be allowed to meet indoors for the first time since March, and the two-metre social distancing rule will be slashed to just one metre on the same day.
Julie Ogley, former president of ADASS, said in an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live yesterday that it is important that as lockdown eases “we prioritise working age disables people and older people” who have been hit “particularly hard” by COVID-19.
“We must balance keeping people safe with bringing families back together,” she added.
The managing director of a Lincolnshire home care provider also issued a warning earlier this month that people should be extra vigilant as lockdown measures are relaxed or else risk putting more vulnerable lives in danger.
Colin Webb, the MD of St Katherine’s Care, said he is concerned that as more and more restrictions are lifted, people could become complacent and endanger others, particularly the elderly and vulnerable and those who care for them.
“Even though they are desperate to see their loved ones, many of our customers feel very anxious at the prospect of lockdown measures easing and are only too aware of the very real threat of a second wave of infections, particularly rolling into the Midlands and North,” he said.
“Lincolnshire has been very lucky to have one of the lowest rates of infection in the UK, but that could well stop if visitors from outside the county start flocking to the coast or to our lovely city, or even if relatives visit their loved ones with the very best of intentions.
“Unfortunately, we have seen high-profile examples recently of the rules being broken and I fear these have further weakened the public’s resolve.”