Rose Sawka, 91, reaches out to her son Terry Sawka, on a daily visit through the window at Acropolis Manor in Prince Rupert, Jan. 30, 2021. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Rose Sawka, 91, reaches out to her son Terry Sawka, on a daily visit through the window at Acropolis Manor in Prince Rupert, Jan. 30, 2021. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)

COVID-19: Friends, family allowed to visit B.C. senior homes April 1

Communal dining, outings also allowed with precautions

The long, lonely wait for B.C. seniors in care facilities is due to end April 1, as public health officials allow regular opportunities for social visits to residents by family and friends.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the new COVID-19 rules Thursday, after nearly a year of visits being banned or restricted to a single essential visitor. The new rules allow up to two visitors, plus a child, with physical touch allowed using masks and hand hygiene to lower the risk of infection. Visits must be booked in advance with the long-term care or assisted living facility.

The changes also remove physical distance requirements between residents, allowing for communal dining and small group social or recreational activities in senior homes. Staff no longer will have to monitor visits, which will be a minimum of one hour to help staff control access.

Visitors may also be eligible for vaccination, which has already been offered to all residents and staff in long-term care, assisted living and independent living facilities. Visitors can only see one resident, and visitors are not permitted to take part in group activities of residents.

Terry Lake, the former B.C. health minister and now CEO of the B.C. Care Providers Association, asked families to be patient, because care facilities need the next few days to prepare for the return of visitors. Lake also called on the province to make vaccination mandatory for care home staff, or have regular testing to see if they are infected.

Henry said the expansion of visits is likely to mean more infection outbreaks in care homes, but with vaccine protection and other precautions, that risk is outweighed by the effect of continued isolation of elderly people.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said there are currently only three active outbreaks in senior care homes, down from 29 in January. “That tells us what immunization can do,” he said.

RELATED: B.C. Seniors worry more about death from loneliness than COVID-19

RELATED: COVID-19 variant patients more likely to end up in hospital


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE — In this March 31, 2021 file photo, a nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaxmobile, at the Uniondale Hempstead Senior Center, in Uniondale, N.Y. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
72 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases in the region to 9,666 since the pandemic began

The Primary Urgent Care Centre on Martin Street opened on March 31, 2021. Interior Health is asking for funding from the Okanagan Similkameen Hospital District for the centre. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Interior Health seeks another shot at primary care funding

IH has sent a request for $1 million to the Okanagan Similkameen Hospital District

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Interior Health announces 89 cases of COVID-19 in the region

Currently, there are 900 active cases in the region

B.C. wineries are open for indoor tasting despite new provincial health regulations. Photo- 
50th Parallel Winery, Instagram.
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. sees 873 more COVID-19 cases Tuesday, decline continues

Hospitalizations up to 377, two more deaths for 1,515 total

The future of the Eagle Pass Lookout cabin is being discussed. (File photo)
Options presented for future of former Eagle Pass fire lookout in Shuswap

Stakeholders met in 2020 to discuss the restoration, or possible removal of the cabin

(Mayor Cindy Fortin - Peachland)
Peachland mayor declines early vaccination offer

Mayor Cindy Fortin said she wants seniors, immunocompromised individuals to get the shot first

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Conservation officers caught three men over fishing bull trout in Kinbasket Lake. (Facebook)
B.C. men fined $1.7K for overfishing near Revelstoke, Golden

The seized fish were donated to the Golden Food Bank

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Feb. 23, 2021. (Kamloops This Week photo)
Clothing that ‘detracts from learning process’ removed from SD73 student dress code

Policy change underway after student in knee-length dress, long-sleeve turtleneck sent home

A shop up on Grand Oro Road near Twin Lakes burned down on Monday. (Facebook)
Fire rips through shop in small South Okanagan town

The building was destroyed despite community efforts to fight the fire

WATCH: Conservation group releases short doc on saving South Okanagan’s ‘precious’ Sickle Point

Sickle Point, the last intact wetland near Skaha Lake, is facing the prospect of development

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Most Read