To help stop the spread of COVID-19, all non-youth justice congregate care settings funded by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services in all regions must continue to follow the interim direction until further notice.
The interim direction replaces previous guidelines and directions, which have been suspended:
As the COVID-19 outbreak situation changes, further direction may be provided.
As it pertains to residents who are away from congregate care settings at the time this direction comes into effect, the interim direction should be followed upon their return to the congregate care setting.
Indoor visits are permitted for essential visitors ONLY.
An essential visitor is generally a person who:
An essential visitor may include but is not limited to the following:
Virtual visits are to be strongly encouraged and facilitated wherever possible
Agencies should consider residents and staff health and susceptibility to the virus as well as the overall well-being of all the residents in congregate care settings in determining whether essential visits are appropriate.
Essential visitor personal protective equipment requirements while indoors:
All essential visitors must wear a surgical/procedure mask AND eye protection at all times while inside the congregate care setting.
Essential visitors are to be advised during screening at the door that strict adherence to the masking/eye protection requirements are a condition of entry and failure to adhere may result in them being asked to leave the premises.
Service providers are to supply essential visitors with a surgical/procedure mask and face shield as needed.
Outdoor visits are permitted for essential visitors ONLY.
Essential visitor personal protective equipment requirements while outdoors:
All essential visitors must wear, at a minimum, a surgical/procedure mask at all times while the outdoor visit is taking place.
Service providers are to supply outdoor essential visitors with a surgical/procedure mask as needed.
Essential health and well-being activities outside the residence are permitted.
Such activities may include, for example, a medical appointment or work, given they are:
Service providers are to follow local school board direction regarding school attendance. Organized recreational activities outside of the congregate care setting are suspended. This includes day programming or other group/public setting activities where social interaction is likely.
Off-site activities for physical/mental health that allow physical distancing are permitted (e.g., going for a walk).
All residents of congregate care are expected to stay in their setting as much as possible.
As residents are expected to stay in their setting as much as possible, absences from the setting are strongly discouraged.
Where an absence (e.g., to a family home) is necessary to maintain the health, wellness and safety, or any applicable legal rights, of a resident it is permitted.
Residents and caregivers are to be advised before an overnight visit takes place of required enhanced precautions that are to be implemented upon return of the resident from an overnight visit.
A resident returning to the congregate care setting from a permitted essential overnight absence must upon return, follow enhanced precautions for 14 days post essential overnight visit, including:
These precautions are critical to helping control the risk of COVID-19 transmission within the setting.
Eye protection needs to be:
Eye protection should have some means of shielding the sides of the eyes/face by the way they wrap around so that droplets are less likely to land on the eyes.
Prescription glasses and sunglasses alone are not considered adequate eye protection.
As a reminder, Public Health Ontario has provided the following guidance for staff areas:
IMPORTANT NOTE: Failure to abide by the careful use of PPE and strict limitations on PPE removal in the congregate care setting is a known contributor to the spread of COVID-19 between staff and residents, and among staff.
Screening in congregate care settings must continue to include the following question to all individuals seeking to enter the setting:
Agency screening must also continue to be enhanced for staff with the following questions:
For a list of all COVID-19 symptoms and access additional screening tools please refer to the to the Government of Ontario COVID-19 Information Website.
If a congregate care setting is in an active COVID-19 outbreak (one or more positive COVID-19 case), the following additional measures must be followed:
Visitors and Absences
The measures above are essential tools to addressing the risks of COVID-19 transmission in MCCSS-funded congregate settings.
While direct interactions connected to the workplace and congregate care settings are key, what we do in our personal lives also contributes directly to infection risks in those settings. All Ontarians including staff of congregate care settings MUST adhere strictly to practices in their personal life that help stop the spread of COVID-19.
These practises include maintaining at least 2 metres or 6 feet physical distance from others, using a face masks or covering when outside of your home, hand and respiratory hygiene, and limiting close contact (within 6 feet or 2 metres) only to people you live with in the same household.
To support these efforts, agencies should supplement these practices by setting measures to maintain and enhance work from home arrangements where it is not essential for employees to attend the workplace.