The new policy will take effect on Friday, the same day the province lifts public health restrictions on other areas as it moves into phase three of its plan to reopen.
“These changes are made possible by the incredible efforts of millions of Ontarians who rolled up their sleeves and got vaccinated,” Long-Term Care Minister Rod Phillips said in a statement.
Partially vaccinated or unvaccinated people will still need to be tested for COVID-19 before entering homes.
Restrictions ease in Ontario long-term care homes
Fully vaccinated people should show their vaccination receipt with their second dose given at least 14 days before the visit and be free of symptoms.
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Also on Friday, the province is expected to lift limits on visitors to a long-term care home and allow buffet meals, resident absences, off-site excursions and activities like singing and dancing.
Further changes came into effect this month in Ontario’s highly immunized nursing homes that suffered major COVID-19 outbreaks and deaths in the pandemic’s first year.
Visits indoors with up to two general visitors and two caregivers were permitted from July 7, and visits by 10 people were permitted outdoors.
Personal care services like haircuts have also resumed and a limit on designated caregivers has been lifted.
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The province has also made it mandatory for long-term care staff to disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status. Those who do not take the vaccine for non-medical reasons should undergo mandatory training on the importance of vaccination.
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The government reported that as of Monday, 93% of long-term care staff had at least one dose of COVID-19 and 87% were fully immunized. The ministry said “virtually all” residents are fully immunized against the virus.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Long-Term Care said experts and the province’s top doctor have all recommended that routine surveillance testing of fully immunized people in long-term care homes who do not present be stopped. no symptoms of COVID-19.
“That said, we will remain vigilant and can quickly reintroduce any security measures if necessary,” said Mark Nesbitt.
Since the start of the pandemic, 3,788 long-term care residents and 13 staff have died from COVID-19 and thousands more have been infected.
Vaccinations that began in December have largely reversed the trend of widespread epidemics in long-term care, with most outbreaks reported among staff members. But on Wednesday, the province reported active outbreaks of COVID-19 in three homes with infections among residents.
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A Burlington, Ont. Facility reported two more resident deaths from COVID-19 this week.
Halton Public Health reported that four residents of the village of Tansley Woods have died since the outbreak was declared on June 28, including 19 residents and four staff infected. Schlegel Villages, who owns and operates the house, said only three resident deaths have been confirmed to be related to COVID-19.
“Whatever the cause of death, I know the team there, as in any of our villages, deeply feels the weight of grief when they have to say goodbye to a resident,” said one. spokesperson in a press release sent by email.
The house has tried to increase staff vaccinations while battling the epidemic.
A vaccination clinic was held on site earlier this month and another clinic is scheduled for this week. Schlegel Villages said 77% of staff had received two injections while 90% of them “committed” to getting both injections.
An outbreak at another home owned by Schlegel in Kitchener, Ont., Was declared this week.
Villa St. Joseph in Hamilton, Ont. Declared a facility-wide outbreak this week. The province has reported fewer than four infections among staff and residents, respectively, at this facility and another focus in Waterloo.
Ontario reported 153 new cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths from the virus on Wednesday.
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