RESIDENTS will still have to wear masks and social distance during visits to Colchester Hospital, despite coronavirus rules being relaxed on Monday.

The East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), which runs the hospital, says its existing coronavirus safety measures will remain in place at the moment.

National guidance says people in healthcare settings must continue to stick with measures including mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing.

Chief executive Nick Hulme said: "We are urging everyone to play their part.

"Please continue following all the guidance we have in place at ESNEFT to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection for those working in our hospitals and for those who need our care.

“Our priority is to keep everyone safe and as we are still seeing an increase in the number of people testing positive in the community and a number of new coronavirus admissions, we're asking all patients, visitors and staff to carry on wearing face masks and to stick with social distancing and hand hygiene measures in our hospitals.

“Visiting restrictions and specific arrangements for attending appointments will also continue for now.

“All these measures have helped to protect you during the pandemic. They have also helped us to continue providing many non-urgent services, which may have otherwise been stopped.

“As always we will keep all of our arrangements under regular review and we will make changes as quickly and as safely as we can."

Visiting restrictions will remain as they are at the moment as well, including for maternity appointments.

Here are the existing rules:

  • Patients are allowed one visitor for one hour a day after they have been in hospital for 48 hours.
  • The visitor must be the same for each visit for the duration of the patient's stay
  • Visits need to be pre-booked with our ward teams in advance
  • Visiting times will be staggered across our hospitals to keep footfall to a minimum
  • You will need to wear PPE (personal protective equipment) on the ward – this includes a surgical face mask, apron and gloves
  • Unplanned outdoor visits to see loved ones through windows / doors cannot be supported at this time – please book a ward visiting slot with our ward teams
  • Visiting patients in exceptional or compassionate circumstances, including those receiving end of life care, is encouraged and supported
  • Anyone showing symptoms of coronavirus should not visit or accompany patients to any appointments in our hospital

Mr Hulme added: "We will continue to welcome visitors back to our wards slowly and safely.

“We understand it’s tough and that it’s worrying when someone you love is in hospital, but our restricted visiting policy is in place for everyone’s safety.

“Please be kind and do not abuse or insult our staff when you call to book a visit. They are just doing their jobs and are doing their very best to help patients and their loved ones.

“We’d like to say a big thank you to our communities for their ongoing understanding and support as we work hard to safely run services and care for our patients every day.”

The trust recommends those who are visiting the hospital take a Covid test before coming.