Alberta is taking a two-step approach in lifting COVID-19 restrictions in continuing care facilities.
The first phase will lift remaining visitor restrictions, current limits to dining and recreation activities, and additional screening for residents who go off-site.
Outbreak protocols, single-site staffing, and other measures will remain in place.
“Residents and their family members have made tremendous sacrifices over the course of this pandemic. 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,” said Minister of Health, Tyler Shandro.
More than 90 per cent of Albertans over the age of 70 have received at least one dose of vaccine and 87 per cent are fully vaccinated with two doses.
“This is a measured, practical approach that lifts restrictions in an incremental manner as our vaccination rates continue to climb. The restrictions lifted today will go a long way to improving residents’ quality of life while critical protections will remain in place to protect their health,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
The lifted restrictions effects licensed supportive living facilities including group homes, lodges, and designated supportive living, long-term care facilities including nursing homes and auxiliary hospitals, and hospice settings.
All limits to dining and recreation activities for residents are removed.
Visitors are no longer limited in number of conditions, however, they must still be screened for symptoms or known exposure upon entering a facility and wear masks in all common areas.
It is also strongly recommended that visitors who have not yet been fully vaccinated, including children under age 12, wear their masks continuously and in all areas of the building.
Residents are no longer required to be screened upon re-entering the building or are required to quarantine if they have gone off-site.
However, if residents are returning from an outbreak unit of a healthcare facility, residents who are not fully vaccinated may be required to quarantine.
Facility operators have until July 31 to fully implement the changes.
Other restrictions and rules will remain in place including screening upon entry and continuous masking for staff, students, volunteers, and service providers, enhanced cleaning and disinfection routines in common areas, single-site staffing requirements, testing guidelines, isolation and quarantine protocols, and outbreak procedures.
The two-step approach was designed from feedback from Alberta Health Services (AHS), residents, and family members who participated in telephone town halls in June.