Quebec loosens restrictions in seniors' homes, scraps preventive 10-day isolation policy

Quebec is dropping its 10-day preventive isolation policy in long-term care homes and other kinds of seniors' residences. As of Monday and starting at privately run homes, it will allow residents to dine in groups again and to receive up to 10 visitors.

Starting Monday at privately run residences, up to 10 people per dining table, 10 visitors allowed

Quebec is loosening some of its health restrictions in private seniors residences and CHSLDs. Starting Monday, residents in private homes can sit 10 per table and receive up to 10 visitors. The measures will be extended to CHSLDs on Feb. 28. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Quebec will no longer require people who live in long-term care homes and other kinds of seniors' residences to isolate for 10 days if another resident or a staff member on their floor tests positive for COVID-19. 

The preventive policy had been criticized by family members who said their relatives' health declined during the isolation period.

Dr. Luc Boileau, Quebec's interim public health director, said Wednesday that residents will only have to isolate for five days if they were in contact for more than 10 minutes and without a mask with someone who later tests positive.

Marguerite Blais, the minister responsible for seniors, said it's time for seniors to get their lives back. 

"When I hear that sometimes autonomous people can't leave their apartment for 10 days, even though they've been vaccinated three times and don't have COVID, that's not normal," she said. 

Quebec Seniors Minister Marguerite Blais says it's time the province stop being 'too careful' with its seniors. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/Radio-Canada)

Joanne Béland, whose 84-year-old mother had to isolate for 10 days despite testing negative twice during the isolation period, said the removal of the measure is "excellent news." Béland said her mother's health declined during the isolation period, and she doesn't expect her to ever recover from having to stay in her room for 10 days.

In one instance reported by Radio-Canada, an asymptomatic senior exposed to COVID-19 was forced to isolate for days with no access to a shower. 

Yvan Laguë had no individual bathroom in his room at his public long-term care home in Dorval and was told he couldn't risk contaminating others. After six days of isolation and his family's threat of legal action against the residence, Laguë was permitted to shower but was still forced to use a commode chair to go to the bathroom. 

The change to the isolation policy, which came into effect Wednesday, is one of several announced by Blais as the government looks to reduce restrictions in residential care facilities as the COVID-19 situation improves in the province. 

"Solitude is very difficult for everyone and especially when you are aging," Blais said. 

10 people per table, 10 visitors

Residents of privately run care homes can expect other COVID-19 restrictions to be scaled back in the coming days. Starting Monday, up to 10 residents will be able to dine at the same table provided they are seated at least one metre away from one another.

Up to 10 visitors or caregivers will also be allowed to visit a resident in a private care home. Service providers such as hairdressers will once again be allowed in residential care facilities.

Residents will be able to hold their visits in common areas, with some conditions.

Those measures will be extended to public care homes (CHSLDs) and intermediary resources as of Feb. 28. 

"I'd like us to stop being overcautious. We're very, very careful that our older people don't catch Omicron, catch a virus, and sometimes we're too careful with regard to these people," Blais said.

With files from the Canadian Press


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?