Residents in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities will once again be permitted to visit in person with their loved ones for the first time since March, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced.
An emergency order issued Tuesday lifts restrictions that have prevented family members from seeing loved ones in long-term-care facilities for the better part of six months.
There will be new rules and some limitations on visits.
The ban on visitations was issued in an attempt to protect some of the community’s most vulnerable members from COVID-19.
Following recommendations from a task force, DeSantis lifted the ban, and issued an order laying out new rules for visitation.
The order divides care facilities into two groups: those that have had no new "facility-onset of resident COVID-19 cases" in the previous 14 days, other than in a dedicated COVID-19 wing, and other facilities that have had new cases.
In those facilities with new cases, visits will be allowed from family members and friends only in end-of-life situations. Also, essential caregivers and "compassionate care visitors," who provide emotional support, may visit residents in these facilities. Each resident can designate up to two essential caregivers and two compassionate-care visitors.
Facilities with no new cases in the past 14 days will be allowed to accept general visitors, including family, friends and others, in addition to essential caregivers and compassionate-care visitors.
Each resident can designate up to five general visitors, and the resident may be visited by no more than two of those people at a time.
Facilities will be required to have adequate personal-protective equipment for their staff, along with adequate cleaning and disinfection supplies.
Each long-term-care facility will be required to set a limit on the total number of visitors allowed, based on the ability of the facility's staff to screen and monitor visitation.
The facilities will also be required to screen general visitors for COVID-19, maintain a visitor log, and prohibit visits if the resident is infected with COVID-19 or showing symptoms of the disease.
Facilities will be required to schedule visitors by appointment only, and to make sure any visitors are complying with wearing masks and social distancing.
Visitors, on the other hand, must be 18 years of age or older, must wear face masks and practice proper hand hygiene, must consent to the facility's infection-control protocols and must comply with facility-provided COVID-19 testing, if offered.
Visitors must also maintain at least a 6-foot distance between themselves, staff members and residents, and limit their movement throughout the facility.