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

Hailey
Artist launches new business with help of 7S educator

Former school first client for Mystic Design owner Hailey Revolone, a Seven Summits alumna

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Tala MacDonald, a 17-year-old student at Mount Sentinel Secondary who is also a volunteer firefighter, has won the $100,000 Loran Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
West Kootenay student wins $100K scholarship

Tala MacDonald is one of 30 Canadians to receive the Loran Scholarship

First-year Selkirk College student Terra-Mae Box is one of many talented writers who will read their work at the Black Bear Review’s annual (virtual) launch on April 22. Photo: Submitted
June Hills of Trail won a big jackpot of $5,083 playing Bingo on Friday night with the @RotaryCommunityOnlineBingo on Facebook. Photo: Submitted
Trail player wins big jackpot in Rotary Community Online Bingo

Cards for regular games go on sale every Sunday

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. health minister says delay in Moderna vaccine ‘disappointing’

‘The sooner we get vaccines in people’s arms the better, and inconsistency in delivery is a consistent problem. This is simply a reality and not an issue of blame,’ Adrian Dix said Friday

(Police handout/Kamloops RCMP)
B.C. man dies in custody awaiting trial for Valentine’s Day robbery, kidnapping spree

Robert James Rennie, who was on the Kamloops RCMP’s most wanted list, passed away at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Coquitlam

Photos of Vancouver Canucks players are pictured outside the closed box office of Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver Thursday, April 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks games against Leafs postponed as team returns from COVID-19

The team has had 11 games postponed since an outbreak late last month

Danita Bilozaze and her daughter Dani in Comox. Photo by Karen McKinnon
Island woman makes historic name change for truth and reconciliation

Becomes first person in Canada to be issued new passport under the TRC Calls to Action

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

Most Read