Ontario long-term care residents who have been fully immunized against COVID-19 will be able to go out for day-long and overnight outings starting next week.
The province says it is relaxing restrictions starting next Wednesday, given the high level of vaccination in the long-term care sector and improvements in other public health indicators.
As part of the changes, residents with mobility limitations or other health conditions that make outdoor visits impossible will be allowed to have one visitor indoors as well as an essential caregiver.
The government says "brief" hugs will also be permitted regardless of the vaccination status of those involved.
As well, close physical contact such as holding hands will be allowed between fully immunized residents and visitors.
The province stresses, however, that everyone should continue to follow public health measures such as hand washing and wearing masks.
Families and advocates had been calling on the province to ease rules around visits since most residents have been fully vaccinated against the virus.
Officials said last month that additional guidance would be provided once Ontario's stay-at-home order was lifted. That order expired Wednesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2021.
The Canadian Press