Relatives, friends and carers will be able to visit their loved ones in care homes from early next month, the Scottish Government has said. 

Visits will be allowed by care home providers, including indoor meet-ups, though precautions against spreading the virus will still have to be taken. 

But how will they work? Ministers have now issued guidelines for care homes and visitors which they hope will allow visits to proceed safely. 

Who can visit? 

Visits will have to be arranged in advance.

Initally, visits will be restricted to two designated visitors, visiting once a week at different times. 

Children and teenagers aged under 16 will not be allowed to visit.

However, this is being regarded as the bare minimum starting point and the numbers allowed should increase in time.

Essential visits, where it is imperative to support a loved one who has deteriorated, is in distress or needs end-of-life care, will be allowed outwith the regular visiting slots.

The Herald:

Where will visits take place?

Visitors will be allowed to go into their loved ones' rooms, or a designated meeting place will be set up. Outdoor visits in gardens, or short walks around grounds, will also be permitted. 

Short trips outside the care home in a car, avoiding public spaces, will be allowed.

What precautions will be needed?

Visitors will be given a fluid-resistant surgical face mask to wear at all times, and will have to take a Covid test on arrival.  

Hand and wrist jewellery should be removed and forearms uncovered, with good hand hygiene in place. 

Aprons and gloves will not have to be worn unless at the requirement of the care home. 

Care homes are required to disinfect areas after visit have taken place. 

The Herald:

Will hugs be allowed?

People will be allowed to have close contact with their loved ones, if they are wearing a fluid resistant surgical mask. It will be advised that the person being visited wears one of these as well.

What does the guidance say?

"Protecting residents from the risk of COVID -19 has rightly been a priority for us all but we know that the consequences of the restrictions in place have been harmful for many residents, relatives and staff.

"Emerging and recent international evidence on COVID-19, demonstrates potential physical, emotional and cognitive harm for residents from prolonged isolation. This has also been fed back by carers and family members.

"In view of this, the WHO ad hoc COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control Guidance Development Group has recently unanimously agreed that visiting should be supported, as long as a range of Infection Prevention and Control measures are in place to prevent the risk that visitors may contribute to COVID-19 transmission in care homes."