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Visitor restrictions at Saskatchewan long-term care homes to ease on May 30

Health officials said all residents at long-term and personal care homes in Saskatchewan will be allowed unlimited indoor visitors, but only two at a time, as of May 30. Global News

Visitor restrictions at long-term and personal care homes in Saskatchewan are being relaxed when the province enters Step One of its reopening plan from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The province said all residents at those facilities will be allowed unlimited indoor visitors, but only two at a time, as of May 30.

Up to four family members or support people will be allowed to visit outdoors.

Read more: Long lines at drive-thru vaccine clinics in Saskatoon, Regina

Seniors Minister Everett Hindley said tough decisions were made to protect the health and safety of people in those facilities, including visitor restrictions.

“People miss being able to spend time with their loved ones, and nowhere is that more evident than in our care homes,” Hindley said in a statement Thursday.

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“Thankfully, due to the incredible vaccine uptake by the majority of the eligible population, we are in a position to make it easier for people to be able to visit their friends and family members residing in all of our care homes.”

Health officials said care home visitation continues to be limited to compassionate reasons only until May 30.

The exception is at homes where 90 per cent of residents have been fully vaccinated and three weeks have elapsed since the last second dose vaccinations. As of Wednesday, Hindley said about 44 per cent of care homes have met that threshold.

The minister further explained that if some care homes only have eight or fewer residents, they may not meet this threshold if just one resident isn’t vaccinated.

He said while there will still be COVID-19 protocols in place for family members and visitors to follow, the success of the vaccination plan justifies the easing of visitor restrictions in some homes.

“We just felt with where we’re at right now, it’s safe to further ease restrictions,” Hindley said during a press conference Thursday.

Hindley told reporters Thursday that 96 per cent of long term-care home residents have received their first dose and 89 per cent of residents have gotten their second dose.

Visitors to care homes must continue to follow public health guidelines on masking, physical distancing, hand hygiene, temperature screening and may be offered an optional rapid antigen test.

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Read more: Saskatchewan officials say 150 attendees will be allowed at province’s graduation ceremonies

As of May 30, all care home residents who go on outings will not be required to quarantine upon their return.

They must continue to abide by all public health measures in place, including current restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings, while away from the home.

Hindley said more work needs to be done as the province continues to reopen from the pandemic.

“The road out of this pandemic runs through our vaccination clinics,” he said.

“I strongly encourage all Saskatchewan residents to also get their second vaccine dose as soon as you are able so that we can continue down our path to having life return back to normal.”

Restrictions will be further loosened when the province moves to Step Two of its roadmap — tentatively scheduled for the third week of June.

When that happens, residents will be allowed up to four visitors at a time indoors and up to nine visitors at a time outdoors.

Read more: COVID-19: Saskatchewan lays out ‘roadmap’ in reopening from pandemic

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Saskatchewan will enter Step Two once three weeks have passed since 70 per cent of people aged 30 and older have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Three weeks must also have passed since the implementation of Step One.

As of May 20, 68 per cent of those 30+ have received their first dose.

Health officials said visitor plans are still being developed for Step 3, which is tentatively set for the second week of July.

Step Three requires 70 per cent of everyone 18 years of age and older to be vaccinated.

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