Visits to Ontario long-term care, retirement homes resume under strict guidelines

Coronavirus: Emotional reunions as Toronto care homes cautiously reopen
WATCH ABOVE: The Ontario government has eased restrictions for visits at long-term care and retirement homes. While some family members were elated to have a visit, others will have to wait for it to be safe. Matthew Bingley reports.

People in Ontario can now visit loved ones in long-term care and retirement homes under strict rules and guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ford government announced last week a “cautious” restarting plan that would allow Ontarians to see family beginning Thursday.

For long-term care homes, one visitor will be allowed per resident per week, and the visits will have to be outdoors.

For retirement homes, residents will be allowed indoor and outdoor visits, depending on what the retirement home sets in place. The number of visitors will be designated by the facility.

READ MORE: Ontario announces ‘cautious’ restart of allowing visitors into long-term care, retirement homes

Other care settings will be allowed outdoor visits of two people at a time.

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All visitors must have tested negative for the novel coronavirus in the past two weeks.

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For all types of care homes, physical distancing will be required.

The homes must also be free of an outbreak.

Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario long-term care minister elaborates on new visitation guidelines
Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario long-term care minister elaborates on new visitation guidelines

The government said homes must also have an established process for communicating visitor protocol and associated safety procedures and that the facilities must maintain the highest infection prevention and control standards.

“We know the visitor restrictions have been tough on residents, as families and loved ones play an important role in providing care and emotional support to residents. We are confident these visits can occur safely,” Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton said last week.

Long-term care and retirement homes have been shuttered since mid-March when the pandemic began, with only essential visitors permitted to enter.

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— With files from Global News’ Jessica Patton