Restrictions at long-term care-homes in BC will be eased in April, health officials announced Thursday.

Beginning April 1st,  all residents in long-term care and assisted living will be able to have frequent, routine opportunities for social visitation.

Early in the pandemic, public health officials identified people living in long-term care homes and assisted living as particularly vulnerable to severe outcomes from COVID-19.

Now that most residents of long-term care homes have received their COVID-19 immunizations, the province says now is the time to relax visitor restrictions.

Up to two adults and one child will be able to visit loved ones in care homes and care home staff will have to allow a minimum time of at least one hour for visits.

Masks will have to be worn at all times by care home residents and visitors.

“This year has been challenging for all of us, but the challenges for those living and working in long-term care and their loved ones have been among the greatest we have faced,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer.

“Now that the most vulnerable among us have received a vaccine, we are safely amending restrictions to give people in long-term care greater opportunities to connect with the people they love.”

Eased restrictions include:

  • Removing the requirement for a single designated social visitor to allow for additional family and friends to visit long-term care and assisted living residents;
  • Expanding the number of visitors so up to two visitors, plus a child, will be allowed to visit at a time, allowing people to connect in small groups;
  • Changing the allowable location of visits so family and friends can visit in residents’ rooms without staff present; and
  • Allowing physical touch between visitors and residents, provided appropriate infection prevention and control measures, like masks and hand hygiene, are in place.

Visits will continue to be restricted in care homes with an active virus outbreak.

People living and working in long-term care and assisted living were among the very first to receive COVID-19 vaccinations as a part of BC’s strategy to use vaccines to protect those most vulnerable to severe illness first and reduce transmission in high-risk settings.

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