Last reviewed 4 May 2021

Under new guidance coming out on 4 May, care home residents will be able to go on outdoor “low-risk” trips such as visiting a friend or relative’s garden or go on walks in places such as parks without having to follow existing rules on quarantining for 14 days on return to the care home.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said residents cannot meet up in groups, must be accompanied by either a care worker or one of their two nominated visitors, and they must follow the Government guidelines of washing hands regularly, keeping social distance and remaining outside.

The DHSC said keeping visits outdoors will ensure any risk is minimised as much as possible, apart from using toilets, with no visits to indoor spaces public or private and avoiding the use of public transport where possible.

There is an exemption for care home residents wishing to vote in person for local elections as long as they follow national Covid-19 restrictions and measures in place at polling stations.

Care Minister Helen Whately said: “As part of this interim update before the next stage of the roadmap, care home residents will…be able to leave to spend time outdoors.”

She added: “I know this has been long-awaited for those who haven’t had a chance to enjoy trips out. I look forward to encouraging more visiting and trips out in future as we turn the tide on this cruel virus.”

Care home residents in areas with high or rapidly rising levels of infection in the local community and/or variants of concern will need to find out additional local advice from Directors of Public Health.

The DHSC said updated guidance would be published in due course.

The charity John's Campaign co-founder Julia Jones said she wanted to see the full guidance before making a decision about the charity's threat of legal action against the Government's 14-day self-isolation requirement. She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “I still struggle to see what legal right the Government thinks it has for preventing people with full mental capacity walking out of their homes the same as any other member of the population.”

There are different rules in the UK's devolved nations. Residents in Wales are able to leave care homes where there is no Covid outbreak without isolating on their return.

Scotland's guidance for care homes, here, allows for residents to see loved ones outside of the care home, while rules for care homes in Northern Ireland vary by region, here.