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Ontario to lift some COVID-19 restrictions in long-term care on Monday

Ontario will begin lifting COVID-19 restrictions in long-term care homes starting next week, allowing residents to once again take part in day trips outside of their facilities.

At the end of December, the provincial government banned general visitation and social outings for residents of long-term care in an effort to prevent further outbreaks amid the Omicron wave. Residents were allowed two “designated caregivers” that could come to visit.

As of Feb. 7, the province is allowing residents to designate an additional two caregivers; although they stressed that only two people will be able to visit at one time.

Residents who have been triple vaccinated will also be allowed to take part in social day trips.

In a news release issued Friday morning, the government also provided an outline for when other restrictions may be lifted, citing the fact that public health indicators are now improving.

As of Feb. 21, long-term care homes will allow anyone aged five or older who has been double vaccinated to visit residents. Three people, including caregivers, will be able to visit at a time.

Day trips will be allowed for all residents regardless of vaccination status, while those who have received three shots of a vaccine will be permitted overnight absences.

Day programs, including entertainment and external personal care services, will also resume. However, officials say that group activities should remain small, with up to 10 participants.

On March 14, general visitors under the age of five will be allowed into long-term care. Four people may visit a resident at a time, including caregivers. All residents regardless of vaccination status will be able to leave the facility for overnight social absences.

The Ontario government has said that testing requirements for all staff, caregivers and visitors will remain in place, despite the other changes.

About 84 per cent of eligible long-term care staff and 91 per cent of residents have received their third dose as of Feb. 3, the government said.

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