Limited indoor visits resume at Ontario long-term care homes
TORONTO -- Many of Ontario's long-term care homes are able to resume indoor visits on Wednesday, months after closing their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Facilities not currently experiencing an outbreak of the novel coronavirus have allowed outdoor visits since last month, but can now permit residents' loved ones to come inside, so long as certain procedures are followed.
The Ministry of Long-Term Care says each resident can have two visitors at a time, if they confirm that they have had a negative test for COVID-19 in the previous two weeks.
They must also wear surgical or procedural masks while inside, which are to be provided by the long-term care homes.
Homes must also have procedures in place for visits to resume, and must create an information package for "infection prevention and control" that will be shared with visitors.
Other restrictions include a moratorium on certain types of physical contact, said a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Long-Term Care.
Those who have received a negative COVID-19 in the last two weeks test and are visiting indoors can "consider" physical contact that "is low risk to the resident, does not involve directly facing the resident, and will help with the resident's social and emotional well-being."
The CEO of the Ontario Long-Term Care Association, which represents many of the facilities in the province, said the organization's members are working hard to make sure visits can resume safely.
"No one had any idea it would be this long before we could open to visitors, and the separation has taken a significant toll on residents and their families," Donna Duncan said in a written statement. "Ontario's long-term care homes are doing everything they can to welcome back visitors while ensuring that critical protections are in place."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 22, 2020.