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

BC Wildfire Service crew member Josh Hutchinson participated in a controlled burn above the Williams Lake Stampede Grounds on Tuesday, April 20 that was conducted in concert with the Williams Lake Fire Department. It was a good weather day for the burn, as on Wednesday, April 21, the BCWS is urging caution, with strong winds in the forecast Wednesday and Thursday for the region. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Cariboo Fire Centre urges caution against outdoor burning due to strong winds forecast

Public, industry asked to consider postponing burning until calmer weather

Taseko's Gibraltar Mine north of Williams Lake gave 40 layoff-notices Tuesday, April 20. (Photo submitted)
Gibraltar Mine laying off 40 to 60 workers, awaiting permission to reopen existing pit

“It’s unacceptable,” said Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb

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
67 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty people in the region are hospitalized with the virus, 11 of whom are intensive care

Members from the BC Wildfire Service and the Williams Lake Fire Department are conducting controlled burns at the Williams Lake Stampede Grounds and at Boitanio Park today, April 20, in Williams Lake. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Fire department, wildfire service, conducting controlled burns in Boitanio Park, Stampede Grounds April 20

Locations include at the Williams Lake Stampede Grounds and in Boitanio Park

Smoke rising from a slash pile near Canim-Hendrix Road on Tuesday, April 20. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Blaze on Canim-Hendrix Lake Road a false alarm

The smoke was coming from a legal under-control slash pile

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Using panels kept cold by water circulating within them, B.C. researchers compared thermal comfort in 60 of the world’s most populous cities, including Toronto. (Lea Ruefenacht)
B.C. researchers use air conditioning to combat spread of COVID particles

Dr. Adam Rysanek and his team have proven a new worthwhile system – a mixture of cooling panels and natural ventilation

Police road checks are coming for people travelling between regions while COVID-19 travel restrictions are in place. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. clarifies COVID-19 travel restrictions, Lower Mainland a single zone

Vehicle checks on highways, at ferry terminals to start Friday

Most Read