Face coverings still required in health settings after return to ‘Plan A’

Thanks to the success of the booster programme, the government has announced that England will return to ‘Plan A’ on Thursday 27 January.

However, patients in Hertfordshire and west Essex will still be required to wear face coverings in GP practices, hospitals, and other healthcare settings when COVID-19 restrictions ease later this week.

NHS guidance in healthcare settings has not changed, and patients and visitors who are not exempt from wearing a face covering should continue to wear one and practice social distancing.  Those who are not fully vaccinated are strongly encouraged to come forward and get their first, second or booster dose, now.

Dr Rachel Joyce, Director of Clinical and Professional Services for the Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care System said:

“Throughout the pandemic, health and care staff have been working tirelessly to care for patients and service users safely.  There will be no change in health and care settings from Thursday 27 January - patients and carers arriving at our health and care buildings will still need to wear a mask, socially distance and use hand sanitiser.

“The virus has not gone away and case numbers are still high due to the spread of the Omicron variant. Wearing a face covering is an effective way of preventing the spread of infection, particularly in busy or crowded indoor spaces.

“It’s also really important that anyone who is eligible for a vaccine and hasn’t yet come forward does so without delay.  Our vaccinators are always delighted to welcome people attending for the first time.”

Vaccines

Please come forward for your vaccination now if you are in one of these groups:

  • 12-15 year-olds can get their second vaccination from three months after their first dose, either via an appointment booked online or by calling 119, at some of our local walk-in clinics, or at school. Children who have had COVID-19 must leave a 12-week gap between their positive test or the start of symptoms and their next COVID vaccination.
  • Anyone aged 16+ who had their second dose more than 12 weeks ago can get a booster by booking an appointment or going to an advertised walk-in clinic.
  • Immunocompromised patients are now eligible for a fourth vaccine dose three months after their third dose and will be contacted by their GP practice. Alternatively, they can book an appointment or walk in if they are already at 12 weeks
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women can attend our walk-in vaccination sites for a first, second or booster dose, without the need for an appointment. Please make yourself know to staff on site and you will be ‘fast tracked’ past any queues.

Plans are currently being drawn-up to ensure that 5-11 year-old children who are known to be at high risk from COVID-19, or who live with family members who are known to be at high risk because of having a weakened immune system, can start to get vaccinated from next week onwards.

Walk-in clinics – where no appointment is needed - are advertised on the Hertfordshire and west Essex COVID vaccination microsite, at this address: https://covid.healthierfuture.org.uk/walk-ins