The province has eased restrictions for Islanders in long-term care and nursing care on Prince Edward Island.
The province made the changes last Thursday, just in time for the Easter long weekend.
"It's another step towards opening things up more like they used to be a couple years ago," said Jason Lee, the CEO of P.E.I. Seniors Homes, including Whisperwood Villa in Charlottetown.
"It's been a long two years."
Depending on the facility and whether it is experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19, residents can now have unlimited visitors as well as their three partners in care.
"That makes me feel good, more visitors," said Michael Sullivan, a resident in long-term care at The Mount Continuing Care in Charlottetown. "Family-wise and grandchildren, that makes me feel good."
The province's guidance allows residents to go to public settings such as shopping, to a restaurant or the hairdresser, or to a family member's home for a meal.
'It is a tradeoff'
Lee said he expects COVID-19 rules to continue to relax for long-term care facilities. He said facilities must carefully weigh the added risk of more visitors against the benefits of increased socialization.
"It is a tradeoff between the risk and the benefits of having more openness," Lee said. "It's really starting to wear on families not having more access."
Lindsay Dickieson, administrator at The Mount, said residents are pleased with the changes that came just in time for the Easter weekend.
"We have a number of large families, so when there are restrictions in place for partners in care and visitors it's really hard," she said. "They can't see all their family members, they're having to pick and choose."
The new rules allow visitors, including friends and neighbours, to pop into residents' rooms for a visit at The Mount, while still wearing a mask.
Dickieson said she does expect more COVID-19 cases among residents as a result of the rule changes. She said wearing a mask is the most important protective measure but also emphasized that people should not visit while feeling unwell. She also recommended limiting contacts and destinations to reduce the chance of transmitting COVID-19 to a vulnerable long-term care resident.
Residents returning from a trip outside The Mount will be tested with a rapid antigen test on days two and four. If they are in and out frequently, they will be tested every second day, Dickieson said.