EAST Londonderry MLA Claire Sugden has welcomed plans to allow visitors into hospitals, care homes and for neonatal scans.
Visits had been almost completely banned during the worst of the COVID-19 peak, but with the easing of other lockdown conditions, an announcement was made on Tuesday outlining the new visitation conditions.
Birthing partners will now be allowed accompany expectant mothers for scans. One visitor per patient will be allowed in general and intensive care wards. And in COVID-19-free care homes, one visitor per resident will be allowed, with another being allowed if safe and if social distancing can be maintained.
“Not being able to visit sick friends and relatives has been one of the hardest parts of lockdown for many people,” she said. “Fathers-to-be and other birthing partners have also been prevented from supporting their partner and sharing in the experience of a neonatal scan.
“But as we emerge from lockdown, being able to do these things again will give a boost to people’s mental health and enable families to be together during these emotionally charged and important life experiences.
“There remains a public health concern, and of course the risks must be well managed and the guidance observed, but this is great news for individuals, families and family life.”
Hopefully a full resumption of GP services throughout Northern Ireland would soon follow, Ms Sugden said.
Health Minister Robin Swann said virtual visiting remained the preferred option and the guidance would be based on the scientific evidence available at the time.