Alberta lifts COVID-19 restrictions for long-term care homes

Alberta is lifting many COVID-19 restrictions for long-term care homes — allowing residents to have unlimited visitors and lifting limits on dining and recreation activities for residents.

In addition, residents will no longer be required to quarantine or be screened on return to their facilities after going off-site. 

“Residents and their family members have made tremendous sacrifices over the course of this pandemic,” Health Minister Tyler Shandro said in a news release Tuesday.

“Thanks to the power of vaccines, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Residents can resume many of the activities they once loved to do and have more opportunities to connect with their loved ones.”

The changes are part of a two-phased approach, the government said. Facility operators have until July 31 to fully implement the changes.

Alberta lifted almost all COVID-19 public health restrictions on July 1 when the province entered the final stage of its COVID-19 reopening plan.

As of Tuesday the province had only six active cases in long-term care centres, and more than of 90 per cent of Albertans over the age of 70 have had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, the release said. About 87 per cent are fully vaccinated with two doses. 

Active cases decline

Active cases of COVID-19 in long-term care centres have declined by 99 per cent since December, the release said. 

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said the lifting of restrictions at long-term care centres will “go a long way to improving residents’ quality of life while critical protections will remain in place to protect their health.”

In the first phase, residents will no longer be limited in the number of visitors they can have. Previously they were allowed only four designated friends or family members as visitors.

Visitors will continue to be screened for symptoms or known exposure to COVID-19, and must continue to wear masks in all common areas. 

Enhanced cleaning and disinfection routines, and outbreak procedures will remain until the second phase.

Staff will continue to be limited to working at just one site until the second phase, which will be announced at a later date, the release said. 

Alberta has not reported any new COVID-19 deaths since July 8.

As of end of day Sunday, 112 people were in hospital with the illness, including 34 in intensive care. As of Monday, there were 624 active COVID-19 cases across the province.

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