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B.C.'s restrictions on care home visits now eased

B.C.'s rules surrounding visits to long-term care homes were eased as of July 19. FILE (iStock Photo)

Most restrictions are now eased for care home visits in B.C.

Starting July 19, visitors are no longer required to make an appointment to see their loved ones

Fully immunized visitors are also not required to wear a mask when visiting

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A year and a half after the pandemic separated families and friends from those in long-term care, visits to care homes are now returning to some version of normal.

Starting Monday, the province has eased the restrictions on long-term care homes and seniors’ assisted living, that were put in place to protect the vulnerable communities from further spread of COVID-19.

Visitors will no longer be required to schedule their visits in advance, and there will be no limits on the number of visitors allowed in the rooms.

Since April, a limit of two people was in place for those visiting care homes, appointments were required, and masks were mandatory.

The province announced in early July that those restrictions would be eased, starting July 19.

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Now those vaccinated visitors can remove their masks as long as they are not in the common areas. Unvaccinated guests are encouraged to get immunized as soon as possible, and will be required to wear a mask throughout their visits.

“For those who are not fully immunized or who are not willing or able to produce the proof of immunization, there are precautions that we have in place now. We’ll be continuing to make sure that we don’t add additional risk in our care homes,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said July 8.

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Popular social events can resume indoors, as long as it remains within the facility. Outdoor gatherings can now include family and friends. Day programs and in-facility respite care are also allowed to resume.

Although the restrictions have been lifted to a certain extent, some will remain in place. They include: screening of visitors, hand hygiene, and the use of medical masks in public spaces.

Any worker who is not vaccinated will be required to wear a mask and be tested for COVID-19 regularly using rapid tests. And each facility is responsible for providing the Provincial Health Officer with information on its residents, workers, and volunteers so their immunization status can be determined.

Volunteers and personal service providers are required to be fully vaccinated.

Anyone planning to visit is asked to bring their immunization card.