CARE homes in East Lothian will welcome visitors back for outdoor reunions under restrictions from this weekend.

East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership said it was going to allow some visiting to its homes three days a week.

However, it said visits would be restricted to one ‘key visitor’ and be held in outdoor areas of the homes.

Councillor Fiona O’Donnell, chairperson of East Lothian Integration Joint Board, said the gradual reintroduction of visits would be welcomed by residents and their families.

She said: “I know residents and families have been waiting a long time for visiting to begin again, but we still have to take things very carefully.”

Visits will be allowed on Wednesdays and Saturdays  between 10am and 11.30am, and between  2pm and 4pm, as well as on Sundays between 2pm and 4pm, and 6pm to 7.30pm.

Ms O’Donnell said: “‘At the moment, our residents can only have visits from one person, who is known as the key visitor.

“I know it will be a difficult decision for lots of families about who this person will be, but there are really good public health reasons for doing it this way and, in the end, it is about the safety of their family member and all the other residents and staff in the home.

“Once your family has made this decision together, your key visitor will be the only person allowed to visit your relative. Again, I’m sorry but grandchildren (and other children) won’t be allowed to visit.

“Because demand is going to be large, and rightly so, we are asking key visitors to book with the home in advance. We won’t be able to accept ‘drop-in’ or unscheduled visits. I would urge key visitors to get in touch with care homes as soon as they can to book their visit.”

Face masks will need to be worn during visits and people will be asked to maintain social distancing and avoid contact.