Government confirms people with sight loss can be guided by a person from a different household

The Department of Health and Social Care has clarified how social distancing restrictions affect blind and visually impaired people

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The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has welcomed confirmation by the Department of Health and Social Care that blind and partially sighted people can be guided by an individual from outside their household or support bubble.

The announcement for England follows similar guidance in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The guidance highlights that where support is provided by someone outside a person’s household and support bubble, interactions of closer than two metres should be kept as short as possible.

It adds that side-by-side contact is preferable to face-to-face contact and recommends wearing a face covering unless an exemption applies.

Alongside the Government announcement, RNIB has put together practical advice on how those living with sight loss can be safely guided in different situations.

RNIB recommends practising good hand hygiene before, during and after guiding.

The charity also suggests that where a person is being guided by volunteers or staff, the person being guided provides their name and contact number in case COVID-19 contact tracing becomes necessary.

RNIB chair of trustees, Eleanor Southwood, highlighted that the restrictions introduced because of the pandemic have had a disproportionate effect on blind and partially sighted people.

“For those who rely on being guided by others to get out, exercise or to carry out daily tasks, requirements to avoid close contact with people from outside their household has meant that their independence has been drastically reduced,” she shared.

“For months we have been calling for official guidance on how blind and partially sighted people can be guided safely, through our World Upside Down campaign, and we’re pleased to see this being formally announced at last,” Ms Southwood added.