The Ontario government is allowing some activities to resume at long-term care homes now that so many residents are vaccinated.
New guidelines were released today saying activities such as communal dining and indoor events and gatherings, with precautions, can now resume.
Additionally, residents and their caregivers who are fully immunized may choose to have close physical contact beyond what is required for care and supervision, such as hugging.
Once the current provincewide Stay-at-Home order is lifted, further direction allowing social and temporary outings for fully immunized residents will be issued.
Under the updated Directive #3, all residents, regardless of their immunization status, can leave their homes on an essential absence, which includes outdoor exercise, buying groceries, or visiting the pharmacy, while the Stay-at-Home order is in place.
Essential absences are not permitted when a resident is symptomatic, has been identified as a COVID-19 case or a contact, or as directed by local public health.
All residents continue to be able to leave their long-term care homes for medical absences or compassionate absences at all times.
Homes must provide residents with a medical mask for outings and remind them to maintain appropriate physical distancing and hand hygiene while away from the home.
“The painful absence of family and friends together with the very difficult but necessary isolation from other residents have been the most heartbreaking realities for seniors living in long-term care throughout much of this pandemic. We are so relieved and grateful that the early roll out of vaccines to residents and staff has brought needed protection and that the province is now in a position to safely lift some of the restrictions that have kept residents and friends and loved ones apart. This is truly what we have been waiting for — the hugs are long overdue!”