Residents of Ontario’s long-term care homes are once again allowed to leave for day trips or overnight stays, though the province says anyone staying out overnight will need to self-isolate on return.
The Ontario government says it’s loosening measures meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care homes based on advice from its chief medical officer of health.
The move comes roughly a month after homes reopened their doors to visitors following months of barring all but the most essential from coming inside during the pandemic.
The province says residents who leave a home for a day trip must be given a mask to be worn at all times when outside, provided they can tolerate it.
They must also be screened for symptoms when they come back to the home.
The government says those making overnight trips must self-isolate for 14 days when they return, in order to protect other residents.
It says overnight stays will be granted at the discretion of each home on a case-by-case basis, depending on risks associated with the outing and the home’s ability to help residents self-isolate.
“This is a day we have all looked forward to, and it is my hope that these welcome changes will improve our residents’ quality of life, while keeping them safe,” Merrilee Fullerton, the minister of long-term care, said in a statement.
“As Ontarians begin to resume their pre-COVID activities, residents in long-term care will be able to get out and about in their communities and spend time with loved ones again.”
The province says it will release an updated policy for visits to long-term care homes next week.