Ontario halts visits to long-term care facilities except for designated caregivers

New policy begins Thursday at 12:01 a.m.

If you want to visit an elderly family member at a long-term care facility, the clock is ticking.

Long-term care homes in Ontario will not accept general visitors or allow residents to leave for social-reasons.

Long-Term Care Minister Rod Phillips told a news conference on Tuesday the policy change is being made to protect residents from the highly contagious Omicron variant. He said COVID-19 is spreading in the community and allowing general visitors would risk vulnerable residents to the virus.

When the changes begin on Thursday at 12:01 a.m., two designated visitors will still be allowed to visit each resident.

Phillips noted that 41 long-term care homes are currently experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks.

He said 84 per cent of eligible residents and 43 per cent of eligible workers have received COVID-19 booster doses as of last week.

“We are fundamentally taking a different approach than what was taken in the past and I think there was a lot of good advice from medical professions but more importantly from families,” Phillips said. “There are 45,000 caregivers across the province. Those are the people who are day to day most frequently into homes and we are ensuring that they can still have access. That is fundamentally a different approach to make sure that those vital connections to family and friends are still available.”

Day trips for social purposes by residents are also being suspended as of Thursday. Residents will still be able to leave long-term care homes for essential reasons such as medical appointments.