The high rates of vaccinations in long-term care homes and massive improvements in key areas of safe health practices have led Ontario to ease up on restrictions in long-term care facilities.

Yesterday June 3, 2021, Ontario made the announcement that as of June 9, 2021, long-term care homes will be easing up restrictions allowing residents to be able to re-connect with loved ones and family members and be given a little more freedom as well.

“Our government puts the safety and well-being of long-term care residents at the heart of everything we do,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. “Thanks to high immunization levels, residents and their families can resume more of the activities that contribute to their quality of life.”

Residents that have been fully immunized can leave their long-term care homes for day and overnight social outings and trips.

Residents with mobility limitations or health conditions (essentially, factors unrelated to the weather) may have one general visitor at a time inside their long-term care home, in addition to an essential worker.

Brief hugs will be allowed to take place regardless of resident and visitor vaccination status. Where both the resident and visitors are fully immunized, close physical contact, including handholding, can now take place safely.

Long-term care residents in Kenora have gone since March 13th, 2020, with the exception of a brief resumption of visits to long-term care homes, retirement homes, and other residential care settings in June of 2020, without being able to see their family members and loved ones.

“We're really pleased for the residents that they're going to have more access to their family members. We think that's great that they're easing the restrictions again," states Kevin Queen, CEO and District Administrator for the Kenora District Homes.

"It was all the restrictions were there to protect the residents from getting infected, which has been devastating to long-term care. But it's been a long hard road for the residents and their families." said Queen.

Queen says he's unsure when all regulations at long-term care homes will be lifted.

“I think there is going to be more attention to infection control processes within long-term care, so I'm not sure we'll ever be wide open," noted Queen.

"I think we'll be a little bit more aware of potential sources or vectors for infection coming into the home to protect our residents. The residents are a vulnerable population when it comes to infection,” added Queen.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began back in March 2020, Queen confirmed there have been no COVID-19 outbreaks across all 3 homes that the Kenora District Homes manages.