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Reunion joy Relief as visitors to nursing homes allowed under new guidelines

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Nursing home residents are to be allowed visitors from next Monday under new guidelines.

This will include homes where there are outbreaks of Covid-19, with the residents allowed to have one visit a week from one visitor.

It will come as a major relief to nursing home residents, who have been without non-essential visits from relatives and friends for many weeks.

Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) yesterday welcomed the publication of revised public health guidance for nursing home visits from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

It said that "subject to a risk assessment, the revised guidance provides for up to one visit per week by one person under Levels 3 and 4, or one visit per two weeks by one person under Level 5".

Tadhg Daly, CEO of NHI, said: "Nursing homes have been innovative in creating initiatives to facilitate connection between nursing home residents and their loved ones.

"We have encouraged and supported nursing homes to maintain social connections.

"This is a particularly important time of the year for nursing home residents and their families and we welcome the revised guidance.

"It remains an incredibly difficult time for residents.

"Nursing homes are making great efforts, in particular this Christmas, to make it a very happy and special one for residents."

Rapid

Meanwhile, Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly is to warn TDs and senators of a "rapid acceleration" in tourism businesses going bust after Christmas due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He will tell the Oireachtas Tourism Committee today that the industry has suffered hundreds of thousands of job losses and a €6bn hit in 2020.

"While the industry is very grateful for the significant Government support, the severity and longevity of public health restrictions means that for many businesses the current level of support is not going to be enough," his statement will warn.

"We have already seen some insolvencies and we are likely to see a rapid acceleration in this after Christmas unless something significant changes."

Mr Kelly's statement to the committee says tourism accounted for 260,000 jobs in 2019.

He says while revenue stopped for tourism businesses due to the pandemic "the costs did not and the stress on business owners is immense".

According to Mr Kelly, Fáilte Ireland offered a comprehensive response and refunded €3m to businesses in fees.

The organisation has also developed and continuously updated 11 sets of Safe Reopening Guidelines that have been accessed 90,000 times.

Mr Kelly says the agency is launching campaigns to promote safe indoor dining and accommodation gift vouchers.

"The total support industry requires is beyond the resources of Fáilte Ireland," he says.

"We have worked tirelessly, providing analysis and input to our Department, the Tourism Recovery Taskforce and wider Government on everything from wage subsidy schemes, restart grants, VAT, and fixed cost cover supports, to inform July stimulus, Budget 2021 and ongoing supports."

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