COVID-19: Quebec relaxes rules in long-term care homes, private seniors’ residences

Quebec will loosen some public health measures in its long-term care homes and private seniors’ residences starting next week as COVID-19 cases continue to drop.

Seniors Minister Marguerite Blais announced the plan Friday as the province gradually reopens from the health crisis.

“We’re progressively heading toward a return to normal for our seniors,” she said.

Visitors will no longer have to make appointments to see their loved ones in those facilities starting next Monday. This will apply to all regions in Quebec, regardless of zone on the government’s colour-coded alert scale for the pandemic.

How many visitors can a resident have over at a time? That depends on the zone where they are located.

Read more: Quebec cuts interval between first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine to 8 weeks

A maximum of nine visitors at once are allowed per resident in areas at the green alert level. Those who live in yellow alert zones can accommodate loved ones from one other household, depending on the size of their apartment.

When it comes to facilities in designated orange zones — which is the second-highest alert level — one visitor at a time is allowed.

Meanwhile, the rules are also being loosened for fully vaccinated Quebecers in private seniors’ residences, known as RPAs. They will be allowed to socialize with other residents in their own apartments, but officials say they should still be cautious as the pandemic continues.

The government is also giving the green light to seniors in long-term care homes and RPAs to take part in private gatherings or other public activities. They won’t have to quarantine upon returning to their facility, but they will have to abide by the same guidelines as other Quebecers.

Seniors can sit together in dining rooms

Restrictions are being eased when it comes to dining rooms and other activities in RPAs as well.

In green zones, 10 people will be able to sit and eat together without having to physically distance. The maximum is capped at six for facilities in yellow zones.

Four residents can sit together at a table in facilities on orange alert.

Read more: Long-term care homes were ‘blind spot’ in preparing for COVID-19 crisis, Quebec ombudsman says

The announcement also means that some activities such as bingo and billiards can start up again depending on the zone and other measures in place.

Quebec’s latest plan to lift public health rules in the facilities comes nearly 15 months into the pandemic. Long-term care homes and private seniors’ residences largely bore the brunt of the first wave.

As the health crisis raged on, the province clamped down on access to those facilities to prevent more deaths.

Loosening some of those rules come as most residents in long-term care and seniors’ residences have received both doses of the novel coronavirus vaccine.

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Quebec maps out plan for earlier second dose of vaccine against COVID-19

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