PPE rules unlikely to be relaxed for health and care workers after 19 July

Internal emails seen by NursingNotes suggest that multiple NHS Trusts plan on keeping the current guidance on social distancing and mask-wearing in place.

Matt Bodell
5 July 2021
Nurse face mask visor

Official statistics reveal that COVID-19 weekly cases in England are up 74% on the previous seven days.

Health and care workers are likely to continue routinely wearing surgical face masks and socially distancing at work after 19 July.

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The news comes amid reports that ministers plan to drop all legal requirements to wear a face-covering in public, socially distance and self-isolate if fully vaccinated following contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case.

Internal emails seen by NursingNotes suggest that multiple NHS Trusts plan on keeping the current guidance on social distancing and mask-wearing in order to “protect” both staff and patients after so-called “freedom day”.

One such internal email reads; “[we] have a legal and ethical duty of care to protect staff, patients and visitors and minimise their risk,” before adding “therefore, pending further guidance from Public Health England and our Infection Prevention and Control team, [we] have decided to maintain the current PPE guidance until further notice”.

Official statistics reveal that COVID-19 weekly cases in England are up 74% on the previous seven days, while the number of people admitted to hospitals in England with Covid-19 rising by 55% over the last week.

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It is not all or nothing.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the British Medical Association’s Council Chair, was critical of the Government plans to relax the current rules on social distancing and compulsory mask-wearing.  He said; “As case numbers continue to rise at an alarming rate due to the rapid transmission of the Delta variant and an increase in people mixing with one another, it makes no sense to remove restrictions in their entirety in just over two weeks’ time.”

“It’s not a binary decision of ‘all or nothing’, and the sensible, cautious measures that we are proposing, will be vital in minimising not just the impact of rising case numbers on people’s individual health and the health service, but also wider damage to the economy and society, caused by even further waves, new variants and lockdowns.”

“Everyone appreciates the efforts and sacrifices we have all made so far to suppress the spread of the virus, and it would be tragic if we were to undo this good work now. We are not asking for a full delay on 19th July, rather a series of sensible, targeted measures that will help prevent transmission of the virus while having a minimal impact on people’s daily lives.

“Our appeal is to both the Government to keep appropriate measures in place, and to the public to continue acting in a careful, responsible manner – giving other people space, wearing face coverings in areas where physical distancing isn’t possible and recognising that the virus won’t simply stop posing a serious danger in two weeks’ time.”

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