Family and friends of those staying at residential care facilities, such as nursing homes, will soon be able to visit with their loved ones outdoors, according a new order signed by Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Dir. Robert Gordon on Thursday.
The new directive allows for additional exceptions to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's order, which temporarily restricts face-to-face visits during the pandemic. During the pandemic, family members have opted for window visitations with their elderly family members to keep them safe from the virus.
The new order goes into effect Tuesday, Sept. 15.
“Limiting visitation has saved lives,” Gordon said. “And seeing loved ones in person is important for mental health. Allowing outdoor visits – with proper procedures such as requiring social distancing and masks – is good for residents and can keep everyone safe.”
Additionally, under this order,facilities must meet certain criteria to allow these visitations. This includes:
- Permit visits by appointment only.
- Limit the number of visitors during each scheduled visit to two people or less.
- Exclude visitors who cannot or will not wear a face covering during the entire visit.
- Require visitors to maintain social distancing.
- Limit the number of overall visitors at the facility at any given time based upon space limitations, infection control capacity and other appropriate factors to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
- Prohibit visits to residents who are in isolation or under observation for symptoms of COVID-19.
The facility also must not have had any new COVID-19 cases originate there within the last 14 days. They must also assure that visitation areas allow for 6 feet of separation between all people at all times. Someone trained in infection control must also be within sight range of these gatherings.
The decision to allow outdoor visitations was made due to a flattening of the virus curve. Officials say they also received feedback from families and advocates regarding how the burden of current restrictions has grown over time.