Province scaling back visitor restrictions at long-term care homes

TORONTO – Residents living in long-term care facilities across the province will soon be able to see more of their loved ones.

Effective July 7, residents can visit outdoors with up to 10 people, two general visitors along with two caregivers can visit indoors, personal care services can resume and there’s no limit on persons who can be designated as caregivers.

“We are giving the homes until July 7, so that they have the time to put in place these changes in a safe fashion,” the province’s new long-term care minister Rod Phillips said during a June 29 press conference announcing the changes.

The former finance minister took over the province’s long-term care portfolio from Merilee Fullerton after Premier Doug Ford’s June cabinet shuffle.

“Long-term care homes will continue to actively screen everyone who enters, conduct asymptomatic surveillance testing and ensure strong infection prevention and control measures are in place,” Phillips said, adding the changes are supported by the province’s new chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore.

“When the province moves to step three, we will be lifting limits on outdoor and indoor gathering, so long as public health measures are in place to ensure safety.”

In step three, residents can literally sing and dance for joy in a return to normalcy unseen in months. Social dinners will be able to return and visitor limits will be no more.

Any able resident will also be eligible for excursions away from home regardless of their immunization status. Currently, only fully vaccinated residents are able to go on outings.

“As these changes come into effect, we will continue to monitor the situation and we will only further ease restrictions when it is safe to do so,” Phillips said, though he did not provide an indication of when the province could enter into the much-anticipated final step of the province’s reopening plan.

The province estimates “virtually all” long-term care residents are now fully immunized with 92 per cent of long-term care staff across the province at least partially vaccinated and 84% fully vaccinated.