Local people are encouraged to #WearAFaceCovering in all healthcare settings after COVID-19 restrictions are eased
Patients in Norfolk and Waveney will still be required to wear face coverings in GP practices and other healthcare settings when COVID-19 restrictions ease on Thursday 27 January.
The government has announced that England will fully return to Plan A on Thursday 27 January, thanks to the success of the booster programme. Those who have not had their COVID-19 booster are strongly encouraged to come forward and get boosted, now.
It has been announced that from Thursday 27 January:
- venues and events will no longer be required by law to use the NHS COVID Pass. The NHS COVID Pass can still be used on a voluntary basis as was previously the case in Plan A
- face coverings are no longer required by law in any setting. Public health guidance will remain in place, suggesting individuals should continue to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces, where you may come into contact with people you do not normally meet
- the Department for Education will remove national guidance on the use of face coverings in communal areas, with local directors of public health able to recommend the use of face coverings in education settings across their area only where the department and public health experts judge the measure to be proportionate due to specific health concerns. This is a temporary measure and directors of public health continue to advise individual settings experiencing outbreaks
- any local introduction of face coverings must be subject to routine review and removed at the earliest opportunity
NHS guidance in healthcare settings has not changed, and patients who are not exempt from wearing a face covering should continue to wear one, follow social distancing and hand hygiene guidance. If patients are exempt from wearing a mask, a face shield may be offered as an alternative.
COVID-19 infection rates remain high which means its vitally important we don’t let our guard down against the virus. The virus has not gone away and wearing a face covering is an effective way of reducing transmission. It’s also really important that anyone who is eligible for a vaccine and hasn’t yet come forward does so without delay.
Cath Byford, Chief Nurse, NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Throughout the pandemic, health and care services have been working tirelessly to make our surgeries as safe as possible for all our patients and staff. We will continue to do so going forward.
"There will be no changes in health care settings from Thursday 27 January - patients arriving at our health and care buildings will still need to still wear a mask, socially distance and use hand sanitiser.
“The virus has not gone away and case numbers still high due to the spread of the Omicron variant. Wearing a face covering is an effective way of preventing the spread of infection, proving to be particularly useful in busy or crowded indoor spaces.”
"We appreciate it can be frustrating but it’s important to understand we do see some very sick and vulnerable patients. By continuing to take reasonable and sensible measures against the virus, we are helping to protect the most vulnerable in our communities and providing patients with greater reassurance.”
A reminder of those who are eligible and should now come forward:
- 12-15 year olds can now get their second vaccination after three months from their first dose via booked appointment, some walk ins or at school
- Anyone aged 16+ who had their second dose more than 12 weeks ago can get a booster by booking an appointment or going to and advertised walk in clinic
- Immunocompromised patients are now eligible for a fourth vaccine dose at three months after their third dose and will be contacted by their GP practice or can book an appointment or walk in if they are already at 12 weeks
- Health and care workers and pregnant women can walk in without an appointment at any vaccination site for a first, second or booster dose. Please make yourself know to staff on site and you will be ‘fast tracked’.
Walk-in clinics are advertised on the Norfolk and Waveney walk-in site, which can be found at https://apps.norfolk.gov.uk/WalkIn/
Urgent care is still available for those who need it, so we would urge people not to put off coming forward. We continue to encourage people to use 111 first for urgent care so that they can be directed to the best local service for them, or 999 for life-threatening illness or injuries.