Fully vaccinated visitors and staff at Ontario long-term care homes no longer need to take COVID-19 test

TORONTO — Ontario will no longer require fully vaccinated, asymptomatic staff and visitors to take a COVID-19 test before entering a long-term care home.

The change, which was announced in a news release issued Wednesday morning, will go into effect on Friday in conjunction with Step 3 of Ontario’s economic reopening plan.

“Based on the latest scientific evidence and best medical advice, we are removing the requirement of repeated surveillance testing from asymptomatic caregivers, visitors and staff who are fully immunized. Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people will still need to be tested to ensure a greater level of protection for residents and staff,” Minister of Long-Term Care Rod Phillips said in a statement.

“These changes are made possible because of the incredible efforts of millions of Ontarians who rolled up their sleeves and got vaccinated.”

The government said that updated guidance related to retirement homes will also recommend exempting fully immunized people from routine testing.

A number of other restrictions will also be lifted on Friday. There will no longer be a limit on the number of visitors at a long-term care home and buffet and family-style dining will be allowed.

Residents will also be allowed to go on off-site excursions. Activities such as singing and dancing will be permitted again.

Officials added that all long-term care homes must have a COVID-19 immunization policy for staff and volunteers that, at minimum, requires people to provide proof of vaccination, a medical reason for not being vaccinated, or a completion of an education program.

Partially vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals will still need to get tested for COVD-19 prior to entering a long-term care facility.

In order to be considered fully immunized, individuals need to have received their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days earlier.

According to the government, about 95 per cent of caregivers and 93 per cent of staff at Ontario long-term care homes have received one dose of a vaccine as of July 12.

About 91 per cent of caregivers and 87 per cent of staff are fully immunized.

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