It was a huge victory for family members and their loved ones when it came to long-term care and assisted-living facilities.

Today (Monday), the majority of restrictions were lifted including the limit on the number of visitors.

Also, those fully vaccinated are no longer required to wear a mask during their visit, except for when they pass through common areas.

The requirement to schedule visits in advance has also been eliminated. Limitations on group activities and adult day programs are also a thing of the past.

BC Seniors Advocate, Isobel Mackenzie is relieved the long wait is finally over.

“It’s been basically 18 months since people have been able to meet with their loved ones, embrace them and have conversations without a mask on as well as meet in their room. All of these kinds of things that have been under some form of restriction in some form or another.”

With the pandemic slowly fading into the sunset, examining the benefits of visitor restrictions as well as their unintended consequences during the peak of the pandemic will need to be looked at in the future.

“I think that issues around who gets to be an essential visitor, what access are essential visitors given versus social visitors and I think we need to do a little bit of reflecting on where we might have been able to do things a little bit differently,” said Mackenzie.

Mackenzie also pointed out the volume of deaths and COVID-19 cases were predominantly found in the Greater Vancouver area, however, the north did not come out of the pandemic completely unscathed.

“Half of our care homes (in BC) did not experience an outbreak but if you look at the Lower Mainland, over three-quarters of them experienced an outbreak, not too dissimilar to COVID. Northern Health also, certainly in the second wave, struggled with the virus. Your numbers became quite large and then the ongoing challenges of living in the north as it relates to healthcare exacerbated things and there were some significant facility outbreaks.”

“One of the most notable was Acropolis Manor in Prince Rupert while another one happened in Prince George (Jubilee Lodge) as well as a few others.”

During its first outbreak, Acropolis Manor saw 57 people, including 33 residents and 24 staff, become ill during the three-month-long initial battle.

A second bout with the virus occurred, which saw five infections and one death.

Seventeen residents at the Jubilee Lodge in PG passed away from the virus out of the 48 confirmed cases.

Northern Health declared an end to that outbreak on February 12th.