(Dr. Bonnie Henry, Minister Adrian Dix/Photo by Colin Smith Takes Pics)

In a live press conference today, Minister of Health Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced updates to long term care visitation guidelines in British Columbia.

Since March 2020, visitation in long term care and assisted living for seniors has been restricted in order to reduce risk.

In the latest report, over 78% of British Columbians have received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 40% of residents are fully vaccinated, including a vast majority of seniors in care and workers in those settings.

Today, both Adrian Dix and Bonnie Henry were happy to announce a series of changes to long term care visitation guidelines which will take effect July 19th: 

  1. Visitors to these facilities will no longer need to schedule or book in advance. Each facility should set visiting hours. 
  2. The limit of the number of visitors for each resident will be removed
  3. Fully immunized guests can visit without a mask
  4. Larger facility wide social events or gatherings can be held again 
  5. Indoor gatherings may include residents and staff across units of a facility
  6. Outdoor gatherings may also include family

Adrian Dix also announced adult day programs and  in-facility respite for seniors can fully resume, stressing how essential these programs are to seniors and their care. 

Dr. Bonnie Henry also discussed updates to provincial health orders.

Long term care and assisted living workers will be required to report vaccination status to their employer. 

If workers are not fully vaccinated they must continue to wear masks and be tested for COVID-19 via regular rapid tests. 

Volunteers and personal services providers entering long term care settings must be fully vaccinated. 

Fully vaccinated visitors may remove their masks during their visit, but must wear a mask when passing through common areas. Masks will be required for visitors who are not fully vaccinated.

Each site will continue to maintain a sign in list for contact tracing purposes. 

These changes to long term care visitation guidelines will come into effect July 19th.