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Enhanced COVID-19 Policies in Retirement Homes

The Ontario government announced the province is enhancing its COVID-19 policies in long- term care homes and retirement homes to further protect residents and staff from the spread of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. RHRA is working closely with the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility on further details and will provide more information about these changes as soon as it becomes available.

Effective December 22, 2021, changes will include:

  • Requiring rapid antigen testing for staff, volunteers, contractors, and essential caregivers, regardless of vaccination status, two times per week prior to entry into the home as part of enhanced active screening practices.

  • Requiring rapid antigen testing for general visitors and support workers entering a retirement home, regardless of vaccination status.

  • Strongly encouraging retirement homes to restrict general visitors to only those who are fully vaccinated and implementing additional requirements for essential visitors and general visitors who are not fully vaccinated when entering a retirement home.

  • Limiting the number of visitors and group sizes for social activities and events.

  • Implementing additional testing and isolation requirements for residents when they return from an overnight absence.

  • Instructing retirement homes to increase IPAC audits.

These measures will help reduce the risk of transmission during the winter months and protect the progress the province has made in stopping the spread of the virus and its variants.

Ontario is taking immediate action to protect the health and safety of retirement home residents and staff with enhanced safety protocols

“As we continue to learn more about the Omicron variant and see its impacts on other jurisdictions around the world, it is critical we provide those at greatest risk from COVID-19 in our congregate care settings with an extra layer of protection against this new enemy,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “By strengthening public health measures in these settings, we can ensure our most vulnerable are kept safe and shielded from the threats posed by Omicron and other variants of concern.”

A key benefit of participating in the Provincial Antigen Screening Program is that rapid antigen screening may facilitate the identification of an individual infected with COVID-19 that regular screening protocols ( e.g., symptom screening) might otherwise miss. It may therefore help prevent asymptomatic individuals from unknowingly spreading COVID-19 and break the chain of transmission.

What does this mean for us at Heritage Place?


  • Must be fully vaccinated

  • Must agree to Rapid Antigen testing at point of entry two times per week

Contractors & Hairdresser:

  • Must be fully vaccinated and provide proof

  • Must agree to Rapid Antigen testing at point of entry

  • Must be scheduled to enter

  • Exceptions must be approved by management

  • Must wear surgical mask for the duration of visit

General Visitors and Support Visitors:

  • Must be fully vaccinated

  • Must show proof of vaccination with identification

  • Must agree to Rapid Antigen testing at point of entry

  • Must schedule an appointment to visit

- Appointments to be booked through reception 24 hours in advance

- Visiting times will be limited to 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

  • Exceptions must be approved in advance

  • Maximum of two visitors at a time

  • Must visit in-suite only

  • Must wear surgical mask for the duration of visit

  • Highly recommend no young children

Essential Caregivers

  • Must follow enhanced active screening practices

  • Must undergo Rapid Antigen Testing two times per week

Overnight Absences (Residents):

  • Must advise reception of absence and return date

  • Must undergo a series (possibly every 48 hours for 14 days) of Rapid Antigen Tests upon return.

Recreation, Dining activities & Other notes:

  • Group sizes will be limited

  • Cancellations may be forthcoming

  • Mealtime cohorting will likely be implemented as per Public Health’s direction

  • Residents may leave the facility – no restrictions imposed at this time

  • No lockdown required at this time

  • Surgical masks are more effective – consider changing from cloth masks

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