file photo. file photo.

Ontario allowing outdoor visits at long-term care homes

Loved ones of those living in long-term care homes can now join residents for an outdoor visit.

The Ontario government says starting Saturday, two visitors at a time per resident are permitted to join a long-term care resident while maintaining public health guidelines in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Children under the age of two do not count towards the visitor maximum.

"Our government puts the safety and well-being of long-term care residents at the heart of everything we do," said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. "With the excellent uptake of vaccines in long-term care homes, it is the right time to make this very meaningful change that will benefit residents and their families."

During a visit with a resident, individuals need to be screened upon arrival and should not proceed past the entry points or other areas within homes. Visitors will not be required to under a COVID-19 rapid test as the gathering will be outdoors. However, physical distancing must be maintained, and masks are also to be worn at all times.

While not all facilities have enough outdoor space, visits can also take place at local parks near the care home or within the general vicinity of the home.

"The province continues to actively monitor COVID-19 activity, particularly in this vulnerable sector," a statement from the province read. "The health and safety of residents and staff, including their mental and emotional well-being, remains our top priority."

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