Restrictions put in place to slow the spread of Covid-19 in adult social care settings will be eased from next week, the government has announced.

Currently, residents are limited to four visitors including an essential care giver, and if they test positive for Covid or return from an emergency hospital visit, they are required to self-isolate for 14 days.

From Monday 31 January, there will be no visitor limits imposed in care homes and self-isolation periods will be cut from 14 days to 10.

Care homes will also only have to follow outbreak management rules for 14 days, rather than 28.

This means that when care homes have an outbreak of Covid – classed as two or more positive cases – the home now has to close its doors for just two weeks, rather than four.

The new rules will affect staff too. From Wednesday 16 February, care workers will be asked to use LFD tests before their shifts, replacing the current system which required staff to take weekly PCR tests.

The new rules are “backed by scientists”

The new rules come following the success of the booster programme, with nearly 87% of care home residents now having three doses.

The change is the latest rolling back of Plan B restrictions in England. But with cases in the community still high, the government say it is necessary to keep some measures in place to ensure care home residents are protected.

Minister for Care Gillian Keegan said the new rules are “backed by scientists” and ensure “we all have more freedoms from coronavirus, including care home residents and their families.”

The Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “I know how vital companionship is to those living in care homes and the positive difference visits make, which is why we continued to allow three named visitors and an essential care giver under Plan B measures.

“Thanks to the progress we have made, I am delighted that care home restrictions can now be eased further allowing residents to see more of their loved ones.”