COVID-19 restrictions: These rules at long-term care homes have lifted in B.C.

More COVID-19 restrictions lifted in B.C. on Monday, making visits at long-term care homes in the province a little easier.

The changes, first announced by health officials on July 8, allow guests to visit loved ones without scheduling appointments in advance and relax some of the rules around wearing masks. 

Under the new rules, fully immunized guests can visit residents without wearing a mask, except when they're travelling through the building's common areas. Visitors who aren't fully vaccinated must still wear a mask at all times.

Facility-wide social events are also permitted under the new rules. Indoor gatherings may be organized for staff and residents, while outdoor gatherings may include family and friends who don't reside at the care home.

Adult day programs that were typically held at long-term care and assisted-living facilities before the pandemic may need a transitional period before fully resuming, but they are permitted to restart.

In spite of the relaxed rules, visitors will still be screened for symptoms of the coronavirus, and they'll be asked to provide proof of their vaccination status. Visiting hours may be dependent on a care home's staffing, since guests must be screened before entering the facility. 

As well, employees who aren't fully vaccinated must also continue to wear a mask and must be tested regularly.

Rules may also change if an outbreak is recorded at a facility, health officials say.

"After an incredibly challenging 18 months, it is uplifting to see people in long-term care and assisted living get back to doing more of the things they love, like gathering with friends, family, and community members," said Mable Elmore, parliamentary secretary for seniors services and long-term care, when the rule changes were first announced.

"As we put COVID-19 behind us, we will continue to ensure our seniors living in long-term care and assisted living are safe, supported and cared for."

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Allison Hurst and Michele Brunoro