Starting July 19, residents of long-term care and assisted in British Columbia will see what Health Minister Adrian Dix calls “a return to a sense of normalcy” as restrictions on visitation heavily eased.
Under the changes, visitors to residential care will no longer schedule their visits in advance, and a limit on the number of visitors allowed will be removed.
Visitors who have had two doses of COVID-19 vaccine will no longer need to wear a mask.
Facility-wide social gatherings will be allowed to resume, including indoor events with residents and staff across units, and outdoor gatherings with family and friends.
“These changes are coming and they are going to make I think an important difference to everyone who lives in LTC and especially I think their families and their friends,” Dix said, adding the changes would allow more spontaneous visits.
Starting on the same day, the province will require staff members to disclose their vaccination status.
Those that are not fully vaccinated will be required to wear a mask at work and be subject to regular screening with rapid COVID-19 tests.
Volunteers and people providing personal services will be required to be fully vaccinated.
B.C. brought in severe visitation restrictions at long-term care homes early in the pandemic, as it became clear COVID-19 disproportionately put seniors at risk.
“It was an incredibly difficult decision to make when we know social connection is so important for seniors health and wellbeing,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.
“But until a vaccine was available, it was a necessary and important step for protecting people in these most vulnerable situations.”
Henry said the vast majority of people living in residential care and staff have been vaccinated.
The province eased restrictions in April, allowing limited visits under COVID-19 protocols.
B.C.’s long-term care homes bore the brunt of the first waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, recording 329 outbreaks and at least 1,032 deaths.View link »