Family Visits in Long Term Care, Retirement Homes, and Other Residential Care Facilities

The Ontario government announced the gradual resumption of visits to long-term care homes, retirement homes, and other residential care settings.  Family and friends will be allowed access these settings beginning June 18, 2020:

  • Long-term care homes:  Will allow outdoor visits of one person per resident each week at a minimum. 
  • Retirement homes:  Will resume indoor and outdoor visits in designated areas or resident suites when physical distancing can be maintained. 
  • Other residential care settings: Will be able to allow outdoor visits of two people at time.

NOTE: For a home to be able to accept visitors, they must NOT be in an outbreak; they must have an established process for communicating visitor protocols and associated safety procedures; and they must maintain the highest infection prevention and control standards. 

Requirements for Visitors

For every visit, visitors will need to:  

  • Pass an active screening every time they are on the premises and attest that they are not experiencing any of the typical and atypical symptoms of COVID-19.  Visitors will not be allowed to visit if they do not pass the screening.
  • Attest to home staff that they have tested negative for COVID-19 within the last 2 weeks and subsequently not tested positive. Visitors are responsible for getting tested.  Visit a COVID-19 Assessment Centre to be tested.
  • Follow the facility’s infection, prevention and control (IPAC) protocols, including proper use of face coverings or surgical/procedural masks. 
    • Wear a face covering (or cloth mask) if the visit is outdoors (or for indoor and outdoor visits in other residential care settings).  Visitors are responsible for supplying their own face covering (or cloth mask).
    • Where indoor visits are permitted, a surgical/procedure mask must be worn at all times in long-term care and retirement homes.  The surgical/procedure mask will be provided to visitors by long-term care homes only.
  • Refusal to follow these rules will be the basis for no longer allowing visits.

During the visit, visitors will need to:

  • Stay in the designated visitor area (indoor/outdoor area or suite) with the resident that they are visiting.
  • Maintain physical distancing at all times and practise good hand hygiene.

Interested visitors should also contact the home to learn about any specific requirements and to schedule their visit.  

Requirements for Short Absences from Retirement Homes

Residents living in retirement homes are now permitted to go outside of the home for short absences (e.g. time with family or friends).  The retirement home must NOT be in an outbreak.

  • The resident will need to pass active screening every time they re-enter the home and also attest that they are not experiencing any of the typical and atypical symptoms of COVID-19. 
  • The short absence is limited to a maximum of 12 hours and cannot be overnight.
  • The resident will need to wear a face covering (or cloth mask) while outside the home.
  • The resident will need to follow all protocols or risk having short absences refused.

Additional Information

Eastern Ontatio Health Unit / Bureau de santé de l'Ontario