British Columbia

Long-term care homes in B.C. open to visitors with fewer restrictions

Residents in B.C.'s long-term care facilities can now visit with friends and family members with fewer restrictions, provided they are fully vaccinated.

New rules follow success of vaccination program, say provincial officials

Peter Out visits his mother Johanna Out at Normanna Living in Burnaby, B.C., in April 2021 when restrictions around visitations were relaxed. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Residents in B.C.'s long-term care facilities can now visit with friends and family members with fewer restrictions.

Starting Monday, visitation is being expanded because of the significant success of the province's COVID-19 immunization program, health officials said earlier this month.

Visitors no longer need to schedule visits in advance. There will also no longer be a limit on the number of visitors each resident can have. 

According to the province, it is strongly recommended that visitors be fully vaccinated, and they will be asked to provide proof of immunization when they arrive. Fully vaccinated visitors will still need to wear a mask in common areas but not when they are in the resident's room.

Visitors who cannot show they are fully immunized will still need to wear a medical mask for the duration of their visit, including when they're in a resident's room.

Social events and gatherings will also resume in long-term care homes. Indoor gatherings can include residents and staff, outdoor gatherings can include family and friends. Adult day programs and in-facility respite can also fully resume.

The screening of visitors and practices such as hand hygiene, use of medical masks and physical distancing will remain in place.

Also in place Monday are new public health requirements around vaccinations to add protection for people in long-term care. The new requirements include:

  • All facilities are required to provide public health with information on the immunization status of all residents, staff, personal service providers and volunteers.
  • Workers who are not fully vaccinated must wear a mask at work and be tested for COVID-19 regularly using rapid tests.
  • Volunteers and personal service providers entering facilities must be fully vaccinated.
  • Masks are required for visitors who are not fully vaccinated. Masks will not be required for visitors who are fully vaccinated, except when travelling through common areas.
  • Each site will continue to maintain a sign-in list for contact-tracing purposes.

On Friday, the province announced that so far, 79.5 per cent of eligible people 12 and older in B.C. have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 49.9 per cent have received their second dose.

Health officials have stressed the importance of vaccinations as activity levels increase. Anyone who has not yet registered for a vaccine in B.C. can do so in the following ways:

Clarifications

  • This article has been clarified to reflect that some restrictions remain in place.
    Jul 22, 2021 11:13 AM PT

With files from Brittany Roffel and Bridgette Watson

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