Covid: Care homes 'could ban visits' as Omicron rise

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Care home staff say they are "reliving" first lockdown feelings

Care homes could be forced to close their doors to visitors as Wales faces a "race against time" in its booster vaccination rollout, a care home boss has said.

The latest Covid regulations review by the Welsh government will not see any major changes.

But officials are preparing for a sharp rise in cases of the Omicron variant, which has concerned care home managers.

Mario Kreft, chair of Care Forum Wales, said visits might be restricted.

"With a virus variant that's doubling every two to three days, we're all looking very anxiously at Christmas and wondering what actually is going to happen next.

"It is a race against time I think with the booster... especially for those caring for the vulnerable."

He told Radio Wales Breakfast that without the vaccination programme, there would probably have been another national lockdown during the festive season.

Will care home visits be allowed this Christmas?

Last year, care home residents had to wave at their loved ones through windows, as restrictions prevented indoor visits.

Mr Kreft said: "We're all desperately hoping it's going to be a very different picture from last year. The care sector normally is open house... it had to change.

"Nobody understands the importance of visiting more than those working in the care sector, it's absolutely vital to people's wellbeing."

However, he added, further restrictions might need to be brought in temporarily to keep people in care homes safe.

"We hope that people will be able to visit in the weeks ahead, of course, but there might need to be some greater measures. We've tried to relax the PPE wherever possible, but we might see visiting again in a different way. We've just got to keep people safe.

"It is quite possible that people will take the view that we need to close down possibly for a week, for a fortnight.

"I think the advice would be get to see mum, dad, your husband, your wife as often as possible, as early as possible, because we just don't know where this virus is going."

He added that, amid concerns the latest wave would be overwhelming: "The people working at the front line, they've been heroic."