France’s Christmas gift to nursing home residents: more freedom

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PARIS (AP) – At the end of an often brutally lonely year for residents of retirement homes for the elderly in France, the government is giving them more freedom for the December holidays, allowing them to spend time with their families and to receive visits even if they are positive for COVID-19.

The relaxed rules were announced on Saturday and will apply from Tuesday to January 3. The deputy health minister responsible for seniors’ affairs tweeted that injecting the Christmas spirit into retirement homes is “essential” for maintaining family ties and fighting loneliness.

About a third of the more than 57,500 virus deaths in France have occurred in nursing homes. Residents have been subjected to strict containment measures, including being limited to their rooms, to fight infections.

A new six-page Health Department document outlining relaxed visitation rules for the Christmas and New Years period said they even applied to homes that had infected residents.

Residents who have not tested positive will once again be allowed to spend time with their families.

Residents who have tested positive will be allowed to receive up to two visitors in their room.

According to the regulations, residents of retirement homes, “like the rest of the population, should benefit from the possibility of spending the end of year holidays in the company of their loved ones.

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