Ontario to relax LTC restrictions starting July 7

Ontario Minister of Long-Term Care Rod Phillips addresses the media at Queens Park, Toronto, June 29, 2021. Image courtesy Government of Ontario/YouTube.

Residents of and visitors to Ontario’s long-term care facilities will see some changes starting next week.

Ontario Minister of Long-Term Care Rod Phillips announced Tuesday afternoon at Queens Park that, after consultation with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore, visitor restrictions at LTC homes will be relaxed starting Wednesday, July 7. These are in addition to recent announcements allowing close physical contact to resume between people who are fully vaccinated.

Residents will be able to resume outdoor visits on that day with up to ten people at a time. For indoor visits, residents may have two caregivers, plus two general visitors of their choice. Personal care services such as barber and beauty care may resume, and there may be relaxed cohorting outdoors for group activities.

Any limits on people designated as caregivers or substitute decision-makers will also be lifted, said Phillips, who added that the province’s high vaccination rate helped make these relaxed rules possible.

“As we head into summer, long-term care residents will be able to spend more time with their friends and families thanks to the efforts of people across Ontario rolling up their sleeves and getting vaccinated,” said Phillips.

Additional restrictions will be lifted once the province heads into Step Three of its Roadmap to Reopen. Once Step Three is in place, any limits on the number of visitors to LTC homes will be lifted. Buffet and family-style dining may resume, and off-site trips may also begin again. All residents will be able to go on absences regardless of vaccination status once Step Three begins.

Despite these relaxed rules, all Ontarians must continue complying with public health guidelines, including mask use, physical distancing, hand-washing, and staying home if feeling sick.

The Ontario Ministry of Health said on Monday that just about all of the province’s LTC residents have been fully vaccinated. About 92 per cent of LTC staff have had at least one dose, and 84 per cent have had both.