9 May 2022

COVID-19 restrictions in prisons update

I know the last two years have been incredibly challenging for you and your loved ones in prison, and we have always said that HMPPS did not want to keep restrictions in place for any longer than needed.

I am pleased to say that say a decision has been made for us to begin to remove the majority of COVID restrictions within prisons in England and Wales and bring us closer in line with what happens in the community.

This will be different for each prison, so you may hear that some prisons are able to open their regimes more quickly than others. This depends on the local situation, such as whether there are COVID outbreaks still being managed.

These changes will mean social distancing and facemasks will no longer be required on a routine basis at visits. This will apply to families and significant others, other visitors, prisoners, and staff.

Prisons will also move to a new approach to testing. Mandatory testing for social visitors has already ended, but details of our updated testing approach that affect you or your loved ones will be shared shortly.

Although these changes are positive, we may still need have restrictions sometimes due to staffing or other non-COVID challenges. But please be reassured that we are confident we can now remove most COVID restrictions while keeping your loved ones safe and improving the quality of your contact with them.

Thank you for your continued patience and support.

Yours sincerely,

Phil Copple – Director General of Prisons