The Ontario government is tightening restrictions in long-term care homes in Toronto, Peel, and Ottawa to protect the vulnerable population from the growing COVID-19 case count.
On Wednesday, the province announced that based on the advice of the chief medical officer of health, effective October 16 and until further notice, short-term and temporary absences for social or personal reasons will not be allowed at long-term care homes.
Only absences for medical or compassionate reasons will be allowed.
“We recognize these changes may be difficult for the residents and families affected,” Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, said in a statement.
“But our priority has to be the safety and well-being of the residents and staff in Ontario’s long-term care homes.”
A complete list of homes affected has been posted online, which the province will update as the areas with higher community spread change.
“People planning a visit to a long-term care home are advised to contact the home in advance, to make sure the home is free of outbreaks and to get information on the home’s visitor policy and any restrictions,” the release says.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, said “we are starting to see signs of rising infections in some of these settings.”
“Currently, there are 14 outbreaks in long-term care homes in Toronto. To be clear, that’s 14 out of about 100 long-term care homes.”
De Villa said that in the current climate, it’s important for people to think about the risk they might present as a visitor in a long-term care setting.
While she did say she is “100% supportive” of visits to seniors, Toronto’s top doctor is urging people to consider “the lowest-risk way” to connect with loved ones in long-term care in order to protect their health.