EDMONTON, AB – After more than a year of often strict health measures at care homes across Alberta, things are finally looking up for those living in and those with family at these facilities.

Premier Jason Kenney announced on Monday (Apr. 26) that as of May 10th, updated public health measures will come into effect for continuing care centres in Alberta (see below). These protocols will increase the number of designated family/support people for each resident, expand the number of people who can attend outdoor social visits and allow limited indoor social gatherings.

“I’m glad that we are able to ease these restrictions, but we will continue to move cautiously, as evidence is still emerging on vaccines and their ability to both protect residents from variants and limit transmitting the virus to others,” says Kenney.

Data released by the province shows active cases in long-term care have declined from the peak of 831 on Dec. 27 to 44 as of April 24. Hospitalizations have decreased by 93% and fatalities due to COVID-19 have declined by 94%.

Earlier this month town halls were held with continuing care operators, residents and staff and the majority of participants indicated they were ready for eased restrictions, but wanted some safety measures to remain.

Starting May 10, the following changes to visitation policy will take effect:

  • Where possible, and provided the majority of residents agree, indoor social visits with up to four visitors will be able to resume again, as long as they are from the same household and distancing, masking and other health measures remain in place.
  • Outdoor social visits in these facilities can expand to up to 10 people, including the resident. This is double the current limit of five and brings the limit in line with the current outdoor limit for the rest of the province.
  • Residents may name up to four designated family/support persons for unrestricted access, and visitors will continue to be able to visit when residents are approaching the end of their lives or suffer a change in health status.

These changes are not mandatory and will vary by site based on the design of the building, wishes of residents and other factors.

(With files from Government of Alberta)