by Stephen Dafoe
The Government of Alberta is citing high vaccination rates among continuing care facilities’ residents and staff as a reason to ease restrictions on visitations.
Updated public health measures will come into effect for continuing care facilities in Alberta on May 10 increasing the number of designated family/support persons for each resident. The steps will also expand the number of people who can attend outdoor social visits and allow limited indoor social gatherings.
The province said Monday active, long-term cases have dropped from a peak of 831 at the end of December to 44 as of Saturday, April 24. Additionally, hospitalizations have decreased by 93 per cent, Covid-19 fatalities by 94 per cent.
“We have worked closely with family, residents and operators on the best way to move forward with changes,” Said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw, in a media release Monday. “Based on the feedback of those most impacted, the available data and the power of vaccines, we are striking the right balance between protecting residents and staff from COVID-19 and enabling their quality of life.”
The government says they held Town Halls earlier this month with continuing care operators, residents and staff to discuss the impact of vaccinations and concerns over COVID-19 variants. The province says most participants indicated that they were ready for eased restrictions but wanted some safety measures to remain.
Effective May 10:
- Where possible, and provided the majority of residents agree, indoor social visits with up to four visitors will be able to resume again, as long as they are from the same household and distancing, masking and other health measures remain in place.
- Outdoor social visits in these facilities can expand to up to 10 people, including the resident. This is double the current limit of five and brings the limit in line with the current outdoor limit for the rest of the province.
- Residents may name up to four designated family/support persons for unrestricted access, and visitors will continue to be able to visit when residents are approaching the end of their lives or suffer a change in health status.
The province says the changes are not mandatory and will vary by site based on the building’s design, resident wishes and other factors.
Previous mandatory COVID-19 measures remain in place.