A Lincolnshire home care provider is urging people to be extra vigilant as lockdown measures are relaxed or else risk putting more vulnerable lives in danger.
Managing director of St Katherine’s Care, Colin Webb, 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.
From June 1, people in England can meet in groups of up to six people from different households outside – either in parks or now also in private gardens, if they remain two metres apart. They can also exercise outside with up to five others from different households.
Similarly, extremely vulnerable people who have been ‘shielding’ can now go outside with members of their household, while continuing to follow social distancing guidelines. Those who live alone can meet outside with one other person from another household.
While this is welcome news for most, Webb said a lot of people with underlying health conditions, who have spent the last 10 weeks severely limiting their contact with others, are still “living in fear” for their lives.
“As a home care provider all our customers fall within this group and, with the co-operation of their families, our care workers have spent months shielding them from the virus, maintaining a protective wall around them,” explained Webb.
“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.
“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.
“Several police chiefs have said that they can no longer enforce the law – what do they say to people who they stop on the way to the beach, a country walk, or even a shop where the queueing and crowding is straining the definition of ‘social distancing’? The news is full of such incidents.”
Webb is particularly concerned about people who have no symptoms but are virus “shedders” and can spread it unknowingly.
“Our message to our customers and staff is that, much as we might want to, sadly this isn’t a time to relax,” he said. “And we are advising families not to visit, at least for another two weeks and even then, to meet at a distance until we know the severity of any second wave.”