With key public health and health care indicators continuing to show signs of improvement, the Ontario government is gradually lifting temporary public health measures at long-term care homes starting February 7.
“Our government responded swiftly to the Omicron variant to protect the health and safety of residents and staff in long-term care homes,” said Paul Calandra, Minister of Long-Term Care. “With public health and health care indicators now improving, we are cautiously lifting these measures so our residents can spend time with more friends and family that play such an important role in their health and wellbeing.”
Effective February 7, the maximum number of designated caregivers per resident is increasing from two to four and will continue to be subject to a limit of two per resident at one time. In addition, residents who have had at least three doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be able to resume social day trips.
Effective February 21, general visitors five years and older who have had at least two doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be able to resume visits to long-term care residents. The number of visitors at a time, per resident will also increase from two to three, including caregivers. In addition, all residents, regardless of vaccination status, will be able to resume social day trips, and residents who have had at least three vaccine doses will be able to enjoy overnight social absences.
The return of general visitors to homes will mean adult day programs can resume along with the return of entertainers and external personal care services in the homes. Social group activities should remain small, with up to 10 individuals.
Effective March 14, general visitors under five years old will be able to resume visits and the number of visitors at a time, per resident will increase from three to four, including caregivers. All residents regardless of their vaccination status will also be able to enjoy social overnight absences.
Testing requirements for all staff, caregivers and visitors continue to be in place. The government will closely monitor the situation in long-term care homes and continue to adjust measures as necessary to keep homes safe for residents and staff.
The COVID-19 vaccine remains the single best protection against COVID-19 and variants. The province continues to urge everyone in Ontario to “boost up” and get their third dose at the earliest opportunity.
As of February 3, 2022, provincial data shows that about 84 per cent of eligible long-term care staff and about 91 percent of eligible residents have received their third dose. In addition, a fourth dose is being offered to eligible residents.
It is important for Ontarians to not let their guard down in the ongoing fight against the pandemic. All staff, caregivers, visitors and residents in long-term care homes need to continue to practice basic public health measures as required such as screening and testing at entry, masking, physical distancing, hand hygiene and staying at home when sick.