PAITIENTS accessing healthcare in Somerset must continue to wear face masks, despite the relaxation of the rules under Freedom Day (Monday, July 19).

While most legal restrictions relating to Covid-19 have been lifted across the country, the NHS in Somerset and Somerset County Council’s public health team are advising people to think carefully and to take a cautious approach to the relaxing of social distancing guidelines.

As positive cases of Covid-19 continue to rise locally and across the country, people are recommended to continue wearing a face mask or face covering in indoor spaces such as in shops and on public transport and to keep the two metre distance rule where possible.

Public Health England’s infection prevention and control guidelines and hospital visiting guidance will remain in place for all patients and visitors. That means that if you are attending an appointment at your GP practice, optometrist, dentist, pharmacy or hospital you MUST wear a face mask or face covering.

Patients and visitors will be expected to follow all social distancing rules in healthcare settings, as before, to help protect the most vulnerable people and support health and care teams.

Health and care settings will continue to operate strict infection, prevention and control measures that include additional cleaning, the wearing of masks and other personal protection equipment and maintaining additional space within waiting rooms.

Healthcare services across the county have seen a large increase in demand over the last few weeks and it is important that everyone plays their part in choosing the most appropriate healthcare services, following all social distancing guidelines and supporting health and care teams by being patient and kind.

Clinical director at NHS Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group Dr Alex Murray said: “We’re seeing a high demand on all healthcare services currently and it is really important that we continue to help protect the most vulnerable people and our health and care teams by continuing to socially distance, wearing a face mask and having your vaccine when offered to help restrict the spread of coronavirus.

“The NHS in Somerset is here for you and we are working hard to ensure access to all that need us, but we need your support to help us do this.

"There are a range of healthcare services across the county. If you need medical advice or treatment and are not sure where to go, call NHS 111 first, or go to for immediate advice, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”