Long-term care homes open for outdoor visits

Province says family, friends can safely visit loved ones

The province is opening up long-term care for outdoor visits.

In response to improvement in key public health care indicators, the province announced that friends and family can now visit long-term care homes to see residents for an outdoor visit. The changes took effect Saturday, May 22.

Minister of Long-Term Care Dr. Merrilee Fullerton says the government puts the safety and well-being of long-term care residents “at the heart of everything we do.”

“With the excellent update of vaccines in long-term care homes, it is the right time to make this very meaningful change that will benefit residents and their families.”

There are several directives and visitor guidelines that will need to be followed as part of this new change.

According to the province, there can be a maximum of two general visitors at a time per resident, in addition to two essential caregivers. Children under the age of two do not count towards the general visitor maximum.

General visitors will be screened upon arrival and should not proceed beyond entry points or areas in the homes. General visitors will not need to undergo a rapid antigen test as their visit will be outdoors.

Physical distancing needs to be maintained between general visitors, and different groups of visitors, and masks should be worn.

Recognizing that not all homes have enough outdoor space, the province says these visits may also take place in the general vicinity of the home, noting homes should leverage nearby amenities such as local parks or parkettes to enable family and friends to visit their loved ones.

The province says it is continuing to actively monitor COVID-19 activity, particularly in this vulnerable sector.

“The health and safety of residents and staff, including their mental and emotional wellbeing, remains a top priority.”

As of May 21, 2021, across Ontario, an estimated 96 per cent of long-term care residents are fully immunized, and 99 per cent of essential caregivers and 87 per cent of staff have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.