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B.C. set to relax long-term care visit rules as outbreaks fall to zero

Care home workers, visitors must report vaccination status
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (B.C. government)

B.C. health officials are lifting restrictions on fully vaccinated visitors to long-term care and assisted living facilities on July 19, with adult day programs set to resume and new rules for employees to report their vaccination status to employers.

Employees who are not fully vaccinated will be required to wear masks, and visitors will also have to report their vaccination status. Vaccinated visitors will no longer have to schedule visits, wear masks or keep their distance from residents in their rooms. Group activities can resume July 19 within facilities and outdoor events with friends and family can also resume.

“We can expect that these mask-free smiles will make a lot of people very happy,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said July 8.

A new public health order in effect July 19 will require all long-term care and seniors assisted living facilities to maintain public health records of vaccination status of residents, staff, personal service providers and volunteers. Staff who are not confirmed to be fully immunized against COVID-19, two doses and at least 14 days to develop immunity, will be required to wear masks on the job and undergo rapid testing three times a week.

Henry said the single-site order for senior care staff will remain in effect in the long term, but to deal with staffing shortages during the summer vacation period, a group of fully vaccinated care providers is being identified to provide vacation relief in more than one facility.

The change comes as B.C.’s health care system reports there are no active outbreaks in long-term care or assisted living facilities in B.C. Outbreak protocols continue in acute care at Laurel Place at Surrey Memorial Hospital and at Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody and Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops.

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B.C. public health teams reported 59 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the same as the 24-hour total reported Wednesday. That brings the total active cases in the province to 649, up from 624 Wednesday, with 74 people in hospital, down from 86 on Wednesday, and 19 in intensive care, down one in the past 24 hours.

There was one additional coronavirus-related death recorded in the Interior Health region, for a total of 1,760 since pandemic began in early 2020.

By region, the new and active cases as of July 8 are:

• 21 new cases in Fraser Health, 175 active

• 10 new cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 236 active

• 19 new cases in Interior Health, 175 active

• two new cases in Northern Health, 30 active

• seven new cases in Island Health, 22 active


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