TORONTO -- Some visitors had tears in their eyes Wednesday afternoon as they lined up outside Humber River Hospital after restrictions eased for visitors for the first time in months.

Humber River says it is the first hospital in the province to ease restrictions since health-care facilities implemented “no visitor” policies in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Visiting has only been allowed for people in extreme circumstances as hospitals tried to protect patients and health-care workers from COVID-19.

“We were really trying to stop the spread of the virus. So we weren’t allowing any visitors unless it was end-of-life, or a life-altering event, or a pediatric patient that required supports,” Jhanvi Solanki, the director of surgical services and maternal child programs at the hospital, said. 

Wednesday afternoon marked the first time many would see their loved ones in months.

“Extremely, extremely hard. It’s been a challenge every day that we don’t get to see him,” said Simon Lim, whose father was hospitalized with COVID-19 on April 16th. “In the beginning, we really did not know if he was going to be here or not.”

Humber River Hospital tried to help patients stay connected using technology to help families communicate twice a day. 

But Carmen Simpic, whose husband had a tracheotomy and cannot speak, told CTV News Toronto that nothing replaces face-to-face contact.

“This means the world just to be able to see him because I couldn’t get a call from him. Only the nurses, which has been great and I really appreciate it. But just being able to see him is wonderful,” she said. 

As of Wednesday afternoon, the hospital will permit six visitors an hour, in units with 32 beds.

“Hospitalization is a very traumatic experience for a lot of people and not having family around is very stressful for a lot of them,” Solanki said. “So if we can do anything to ease that burden for our patients and our family members, then we would.”

Limited visitation will permit someone facing imminent death to have one visitor daily. A woman in labor will be able to have a support person for the duration of her stay and long-term patients, who have been in hospital for more than 30 days, can have a visitor three times a week.

“About an hour a day is what we’re allowing at this point ...We’re still restricted so it’s still just one person at a time,” Solanki said. 

All visitors will be screened upon entry, and they’ll also receive instructions on donning and doffing personal protective equipment. But the visitors CTV News Toronto spoke to Wednesday said they’ll endure anything to be with their loved ones again.

“This is like the first time we’ve ever been apart in 15 years,” Simpic said. “It’s only an hour but it means the world to me.”

In June, the Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams recommended that hospitals across the province permit more regular patient visits with consideration given to the patient’s circumstances and the visitor’s role.