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Ontario orders visitor restrictions at long-term care homes in COVID hot spots

The province is applying the restrictions regionally with Toronto, Peel, and Ottawa being the first to fall under the latest roll-back on visitation
2020 04 21 Senior COVID-19 (AdobeStock_330618487)
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Ontario's government is again ordering a limit to visits at long-term care homes, and has ordered a regional approach to the latest list of restrictions. 

Today the government announced general visitors would not be allowed at long-term care homes in Ottawa, Peel, or Toronto starting Wednesday, Oct. 7. 

Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, the minister of long-term care, noted this second wave of COVID is hitting some parts of the province harder than others. The three regions that will see visitor restrictions regularly report the highest number of new cases, and usually account for between two-thirds to three-quarters of the daily cases reported by the province. 

Under the latest restrictions, only essential visitors (including one caregiver per resident) will be allowed to visit. If the home is in a COVID-19 outbreak, local public health units are to provide direction on further visitor restrictions and other measures. 

A caregiver is someone designated by a resident or their substitute decision-maker to provide direct care such as help with feeding, mobility, hygiene, or cognitive stimulation to the resident. They can be family members, friends, privately hired caregivers, paid companions, and/or translators. Each resident can have up to two designated caregivers, but they may only visit one at a time if the home is in the three areas under restriction.

There are nearly 150 homes listed for those three regions, all of which will be impacted by the new restrictions. 

For homes not in the three impacted regions and not in a COVID-19 outbreak, the current provincial visiting policy allows up to two caregivers per resident and allows general visitors up to two at a time provided the visits are pre-booked. All visitors, whether they are caregivers or general visitors must have had a negative COVID-19 test result within the last two weeks. 

According to a news release from the provincial government, the list of regions under visitor restrictions will be updated if and when the areas with higher community spread change. 

Those wishing to visit a long-term care home anywhere in Ontario are advised to call ahead. All visitors must wear surgical/procedure masks inside long-term care homes, and essential visitors will be required to wear additional PPE for interactions with residents who are self-isolating, suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19. 

The province has also promised to release changes to visitor policies for retirement homes "in the coming days." 

For more on the latest visitor restrictions, click here.