On Tuesday, Nov. 16, New York’s Department of Health adopted new federal guidance that lifts restrictions put on nursing home visitations. 

The federal guidance, updated on Nov. 12, makes it so nursing homes can not limit the number of people visiting a resident or limit the durations of visits. This is a reversal of strict guidelines established during the height of the pandemic. 

“While all residents have a right to visitation, fully open and unrestricted visitation posed a clinical health and safety risk to other residents during this [public health emergency], and therefore, it was reasonable to place limits on visitation,” the guidance states.

“However, at this time, continued restrictions on this vital resident’s right are no longer necessary.”

The new guidance also allows nursing home residents to leave nursing facilities whenever they choose, with COVID testing recommended upon return. 

The state is calling on all New York nursing homes to “immediately implement and comply with” the new provisions. 

As of Nov. 17, 89 percent of all nursing home residents are fully vaccinated, and 94 percent of nursing home staff are fully vaccinated. Likewise, just under 80 percent of adults and nearly 68 percent of all New Yorkers are fully vaccinated.

Still, the state is asking that all nursing homes adhere to many of the basic COVID prevention protocols, including using face coverings, staying six feet apart and disinfecting surfaces and frequently touched areas.

And while New York’s nursing homes are not allowed to make visitors provide proof of vaccination status, all visitors may not enter a nursing home if they are showing symptoms or have recently tested positive for COVID. 


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