After being closed since March to protect vulnerable residents, B.C.’s long-term care facilities will be opening their doors to visitors once again, with plenty of rules and regulations to keep people as safe as possible.

Visitors will be limited to one designated person per resident and must be within a specified location. According to Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer, each guest must book a time in advance and will be screened by staff when they arrive. Henry added that guests must bring and wear a mask before entering the facility.

As well, personal services, such as barbers, will be allowed to tend to those inside, but must come with an approved safety plan.

As for the facilities, it cannot be under an active outbreak and it must have a written safety plan before it allows visitors in.

The COVID-19 has hit particularly hard on the elderly population, and B.C. public health officials did their best to slow and stop the virus from spreading to long-term care centres.

“This can be a very difficult time being separated from the ones you love. For many people with things like dementia, it can be a very confusing and difficult time. You have shown reliance, determination and courage, despite this challenge,” said Henry.

Henry said at the onset of the pandemic, quick and strong action was needed to best protect vulnerable people. It started with visitor access being limited to essential visits only, then limiting care staff to only working at one facility.

“Despite our efforts, families have lost fathers, mothers, and grandparents, and every day, this weighs heavily on us,” said Dr. Henry.

Henry added that as seniors may be allowed out from the facilities, they are asked to limit their outings as much as possible.

B.C. health authorities will be monitoring the progress of the situation to ensure that restrictions are lifted or modified as soon as it is safe to do so.