Rules surrounding visitations to long-term care homes and assisted living facilities will be further relaxed later this month.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced the new changes would go into effect July 19.
The changes include visitors no longer needing to schedule visits ahead of time with their loves ones, while a limit on the number of visitors previously allowed — two adults and one child — have been removed entirely.
Henry and Dix also announced that visitors who have received two doses of vaccine and are now fully immunized can visit without wearing a mask.
Meanwhile, facility-wide social events or gatherings will be able to safely resume and indoor gatherings can include residents and staff across units of a facility.
“The pandemic has challenged people living and working in long-term care in ways we never could have imagined, but we are now finally in a place where people can safely spend more time together again,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.
The last update to guidelines around care-home visitation went into effect April 1.
Visitors must still undergo COVID-19 screening and wear a medical mask upon visiting.
There will also be new public health requirements regarding vaccinations put into place.
A new health order will require facilities to provide public health information on all residents, staff, service providers and volunteers so their immunization status can be determined.
Workers who aren’t fully vaccinated will be required to wear a mask and be tested for COVID-19 regularly.
Masks will still be required for visitors who are not fully vaccinated.
“While vital for reducing the spread of COVID-19, we recognize the restrictions on visitors have been incredibly challenging for people in long-term care and their families,” said Henry.
“Because nearly 80 per cent of people in B.C. have stepped up to be vaccinated, we are now in a place where visitation in long-term care can resume in a more normal way. This means residents and their families and friends will be able to spend more quality time together — safely.”
The update comes a day after health officials announced 59 new cases of COVID-19 in the province.
Of the new cases, 13 were recorded in Vancouver Coastal Health, 20 were in Fraser Health, three in Island Health, 17 in Interior Health, and two in Northern Health.
There are currently 624 active cases in the province and 86 people in hospital — 20 of whom are in intensive care.
There are four outbreaks at acute care and assisted living facilities across the province:
- Long-term care: Rotary Manor Dawson Creek (Northern Health)
- Acute Care: Laurel Place at Surrey Memorial Hospital, Eagle Ridge Hospital (Fraser Health), and Royal Inland Hospital (Interior Health)