Step Three of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen is now in effect, and the province is easing COVID-19-related restrictions in congregate care settings such as residences for adults with developmental disabilities, residences for children in care or with special needs, along with women’s shelters so residents can spend more time with family and friends.

With continued improvements in Ontario’s key COVID-19 related public health indicators, including an increase in vaccination rates, more outdoor and indoor visits will be allowed for both essential and non-essential visitors, along with recreational activities and overnight stays outside of the residence, with appropriate precautions.

“As we cautiously reopen the province, we know how important it is for people in congregate care settings to spend time with their loved ones outside of care settings, where they can share activities and special moments together,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “This has been made possible by the people of Ontario rolling up their sleeves and getting vaccinated, and by the dedicated staff who have been supporting congregate care residents across the province.”

The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services congregate care guidance document and website have been updated with the following changes:

  • Scheduled indoor and outdoor visits for non-essential visitors are permitted in alignment with social gathering limits as outlined in the Roadmap to Reopen.
  • Overnight absences are permitted for all residents, with an updated active screening process with no requirement for a negative COVID-19 test for fully immunized residents.

These changes provide new opportunities to support social connections for residents and build on previous updates including the introduction of brief physical contact regardless of vaccination status and recreational community outings for residents of congregate care settings. Essential visits and absences also continue to be permitted, as they have been over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To ensure safe visits and activities for everyone, people wishing to visit a friend or family member living in a congregate care setting should contact the residence administration to schedule a time slot and to confirm COVID-related requirements, including screening and other precautions.

Face coverings in indoor public settings and physical distancing requirements remain in place throughout Step Three. This is in alignment with Ontario’s COVID-19 public health measures and advice.