Later this month, long-term care homes in British Columbia will open to vaccinated visitors
Residents of long-term care facilities in BC will soon be able to visit friends and family without restrictions, provided they have been vaccinated.
Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said at a press conference on Thursday that visits are expanding due to the major success of the province’s COVID-19 immunization program.
“This is an important day, and it reflects the progress we are making,” Dix said.
They said that starting from July 19, tourists will no longer need to arrange a visit time in advance. The number of visitors per resident will no longer be restricted.
Henry said that all visitors need to be fully vaccinated and are required to provide proof of immunity when they arrive. She said that visitors still need to wear masks in public areas, but they do not need to wear masks in residential rooms.
Henry said: “Because of the overall progress we have made in British Columbia, we can now open more fully and revisit again.”
Social activities and gatherings will also resume in the long-term care home. Indoor gatherings can include residents and employees, and outdoor gatherings can include family and friends. Adult day courses and respites in facilities can also be fully restored.
“After an incredible 18 months, it’s exciting to see people in long-term care and assisted living do more of what they love again,” said Mable Elmore, Secretary of the Council of Aged Services and Long-Term Care. Press release.
Elmore said that as restrictions are lifted, officials will continue to ensure the safety of seniors in long-term care facilities.
When visitation restrictions are relaxed, visitor screening and hand hygiene, use of medical masks, and physical distance will continue.
Henry said: “As with all the measures we have taken in British Columbia, we are slowly and cautiously implementing these restrictions.”
Henry said that tourists who have not been fully vaccinated will have to continue to take current precautions.
At the same time, officials announced new public health requirements surrounding vaccination to increase the protection of long-term care workers. The new requirements that took effect on July 19 include:
- All facilities must provide public health information on the immunization status of all residents, staff, personal service providers, and volunteers.
- Workers who are not fully vaccinated must wear masks at work and use rapid tests to be tested regularly for COVID-19.
- Volunteers and personal service providers entering the facility must be fully vaccinated.
- Tourists who have not been fully vaccinated need to wear masks. Tourists who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks, except when traveling in public areas.
- Each site will continue to maintain a login list for tracking contacts.
Henry said that although outbreaks in long-term care have decreased due to vaccination efforts, they are still occurring.
She said these outbreaks were small and contained. During the epidemic, visits will be suspended.
Current COVID-19 situation
BC health officials announced 59 new COVID-19 cases and one death on Thursday.
Also as of Thursday, 78.4% of people 12 years and older received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. About 40% of people received the second dose.
The province is currently in the third step of a four-step reopening plan, which aims to remove almost all restrictions by September.
Starting Monday, Canadians who have been fully vaccinated no longer need to be isolated for two weeks.
As the level of activity increased, health officials emphasized the importance of vaccination. Anyone who has not registered a vaccine in British Columbia can register in the following ways: