Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw is ordering a provincewide ban on visitors to long-term care centres, licensed group homes and other facilities.
These strict measures have been put in place as part of the ongoing work to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect Albertans.
What this public health order means is that no visitors will be allowed at these facilities unless a resident is dying or the visitor is essential for providing specialized care that cannot be delivered by staff.
Family, friends and religious leaders will still be permitted to visit a resident who is dying, however, In these cases, only one visitor can enter at a time and they cannot interact with any other residents while in the building.
Those visitors must also undergo an extensive health screening prior to stepping inside the facility, including a temperature check and questionnaire. If permitted inside the facility, they will be required to wear a mask or face covering during the time they are inside the building.
Hinshaw says that extreme measures are necessary to protect the vulnerably of residents at these continuing care facilities.
She says “Residents of all continuing care sites are at extreme risk if exposed to COVID-19, and we are doing everything possible to ensure their safety. I know this will have a profound impact on the lives of those residents and their families; this is not a step that we take lightly. I’m asking all Albertans to reach out and support their loved ones through the phone, video and any other means possible.”
Alberta's Minister of Health, Tyler Shandro goes on to say that "This order is an aggressive but necessary step to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of vulnerable Albertans. Our government will support any action needed to protect the lives of residents at continuing care facilities across the province.”
The new restriction applies to all licensed supportive living, long-term care and other continuing care facilities in the province. It also applies to all residential addiction treatment operators licensed under the Mental Health Services Act.