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Outdoor visits for long-term care residents

Updated policy means family and friends can safely visit loved ones

In response to improvements in key public health care indicators, Ontario is pleased to announce that friends and family can now visit long-term care homes to see residents for an outdoor visit. The changes take effect Saturday, May 22.

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

In consultation with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ministry of Long-Term Care has updated Directive #3, as well as the ministry’s visitor policy and guidance document to set out the following:

  • A maximum of two general visitors at a time per resident in addition to two essential caregiver(s).
  • Children under the age of two years do not count towards the general visitor maximum.
  • General visitors need to be actively screened upon arrival and should not proceed beyond entry points / areas in homes.
  • General visitors do not need to undergo a rapid antigen test as their visit will be outdoors.
  • General visitors need to maintain physical distancing and wear masks and every effort should be made to ensure different groups of visitors are also physically distanced.
  • Recognizing that not all homes have enough outdoor space, these visits may also take place in the general vicinity of the home. Homes should leverage nearby amenities such as local parks or parkettes to enable family and friends to visit their loved ones.

The province continues 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 our top priority.

Quick Facts

  • All Ontarians, including all staff, visitors, and residents in long-term care homes, must continue to practice public health measures including masking, physical distancing (with exceptions for fully immunized caregivers), hand hygiene, and staying at home when they are sick. While COVID-19 immunizations have been demonstrated to be very effective, it is important for Ontarians to not let their guard down during this crucial period in the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccines do not provide 100 per cent protection and long-term care residents remain at higher risk when it comes to the impact of COVID-19.

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.

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