- Only vaccinated visitors will be allowed inside long-term care homes, according to the Ontario government.
- Staff, volunteers, contractors, and essential caregivers will be required to take rapid antigen tests twice a week before entry.
The Ontario government announced Tuesday that only vaccinated visitors will be allowed inside long-term care homes. Starting Friday, long-term care residents will be able to host up to two vaccinated visitors indoors only if they present a negative COVID-19 test.
As the more infectious Omicron variant spreads rapidly in Ontario, the province confirmed that a series of new public health measures would be implemented this week in long-term care homes.
“Protecting long-term care residents from COVID-19 is our top priority.” Faced with rising rates of community infection and the emerging threat of the Omicron variant, we are taking additional steps to protect our most vulnerable, based on the best available scientific and medical advice,” said Rod Phillips, Ontario’s long-term care minister, in a statement released today.
According to the province, all general visitors to long-term care homes must be fully vaccinated to enter, and it appears that no exception will be made for children who have not yet received two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.
More measures will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, including mandatory testing of all staff, students, volunteers, and caregivers at least twice a week before gaining access to the facility, regardless of vaccination status.
Unless they have a valid medical exemption or care for a resident in palliative care, caregivers must be fully vaccinated.
“Caregivers must receive their first dose by December 20, 2021, and all required doses must be received by February 21, 2022, to be considered fully vaccinated. In the meantime, designated caregivers who have not completed their vaccinations must limit their visits to the resident’s room, “According to the press release.
Only 2 visitors will be permitted to see a resident indoors, and only four visitors will be allowed outside.
Residents who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to go on social day trips, but overnight absences for social reasons will be prohibited for all residents.
Beginning December 22, additional restrictions will be imposed at retirement homes.
According to the province, staff, volunteers, contractors, and essential caregivers will be required to take rapid antigen tests twice a week before entry.
General visitors and support workers will also be required to take rapid tests. The province says it is “strongly encouraging” retirement homes to limit general visitors to those who are completely vaccinated.
“As we learn more about the Omicron variant and see its effects in other jurisdictions around the world, we must provide those at greatest risk from COVID-19 in our congregate care settings with an extra layer of protection against this new enemy,” Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore stated, in a written statement.
“We can keep our most vulnerable safe and protected from the threats posed by Omicron and other variants of concern by strengthening public health measures in these settings.”
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