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Ontario quietly changes LTC rules; visitors no longer have to mask in resident rooms

TORONTO — Ontario has quietly changed mask rules for long-term care homes, no longer requiring visitors or caregivers to wear them when alone with a resident in their room.

Long-term care homes are one of the only places where provincial mask mandates remain, after Ontario lifted most such requirements in June.

But according to a COVID-19 guidance document for long-term care homes on an Ontario government website, the rules were changed as of Friday, though there was no public announcement.

Other changes that took effect that day include ending the active screening requirement, so visitors no longer have to confirm in person or online that they are symptom free, ending a limit of four visitors per resident at a time for indoor visits, and no longer requiring testing of residents when they return from an absence.

Long-Term Care Minister Paul Calandra visited a long-term care home on Oct. 14 to promote vaccination, but made no mention of the changes, saying measures such as masking “in all public areas” of long-term care homes would “continue” to be required.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said in June he would recommend keeping the long-term care mask mandate in place until at least the summer of 2023.  

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 19, 2022.

The Canadian Press