COVID-19 Guidance Updates for Retirement Homes and Withdrawal of Recommendation on Asymptomatic Testing
Today, the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility (MSAA) shared this memo with updates to the MSAA COVID-19 Guidance Document for Retirement Homes in Ontario. The changes are effective as of Wednesday, March 29, 2023.
Key updates are outlined below. Please consult the document for full details:
- Screening: Active screening is no longer required. Passive screening remains in place for all those entering the retirement home. Homes should continue to communicate (e.g. signage) to all those entering the retirement home that they should not enter if feeling ill, symptomatic or have tested positive for COVID-19.
- Masking: No changes to the indoor masking requirements. Outdoor masking continues to be recommended for staff, students and volunteers; however, it is no longer recommended for visitors and residents.
- Physical Distancing: Physical distancing requirements have been removed.
- Daily Resident Symptom Assessment: Homes should continue to conduct daily symptom assessments of all residents. However, temperature checks are no longer required as part of the daily assessment and are only recommended if the resident is symptomatic, has tested positive for COVID-19, or has been exposed to COVID-19.
- Resident Absences: Active screening is no longer a requirement for residents returning from any type of absence.
- Retirement Home Tours: In-person tours for prospective residents are now permitted at all times, including during an outbreak. However, outbreak areas in the home should be avoided.
Should you have any questions, please contact MSAA at RHInquiries@ontario.ca.
RHRA Withdraws Recommendation on Asymptomatic Testing
RHRA is withdrawing its recommendation on asymptomatic testing effective immediately given the lower sensitivity of rapid antigen tests towards the Omicron variant, improved province-wide status of COVID-19 in retirement homes and changes to provincial guidance. In addition, there is currently limited evidence showing that asymptomatic testing reduces the number and severity of outbreaks.
RHRA no longer recommends asymptomatic testing for staff, contractors, volunteers and students. This recommendation was originally issued on March 14, 2022.
The Ministry of Health’s Provincial Antigen Screening Program (PASP) continues to be available to retirement homes. Retirement homes can apply to the PASP through the Ontario Together Portal, and may order rapid antigen tests through the PPE Supply Portal. For questions regarding the PASP, please contact PASP@ontario.ca. For questions about the ordering process, please contact SCO.Supplies@ontario.ca.