|A daughter hugs her hospitalized mother during her visit to a nursing home located in Daejeon City, June 2021. Yonhap|
By Lee Yeon-woo
Starting Tuesday, people will be allowed to visit their elderly relatives at long-term care facilities in person. Elderly people who receive their second booster of a COVID-19 vaccine will also be permitted to leave their facility and stay out overnight.
Due to the COVID-19 resurgence this summer, in-person visits were suspended in late July.
A steady decrease in the daily number of infections and a more than 90-percent rate of vaccination with the second booster of the residents of such facilities has led the government to decide to loosen restrictions, the Central Disaster Management Headquarters (CDMH) said Friday.
Under the eased rules, any visitors confirmed to be negative through the use of COVID-19 self-test kits will be allowed to hold hands with and hug their elderly relatives.
However, facilities should still follow several quarantine rules. They should receive visitors' reservations in advance, check visitors' self-test kit results to ensure they are negative, prohibit indoor eating, ventilate rooms before and after visits and make sure that visitors wear face masks.
Facility residents will be permitted temporarily to go out if they have received their second booster of a COVID-19 vaccine or have been infected with COVID-19 before and have received two doses of the vaccine. Before returning to the facility, they must take a Rapid Antigen Test and produce a negative result.
Suspended programs and events are expected to resume. Outside lecturers will now be allowed to enter nursing homes after receiving their first COVID-19 booster shot or if they have previously been infected with COVID-19 before and have received two doses of the vaccine.
"It would have been disappointing and uncomfortable as restrictions don't allow you to even hold elderly peoples' hands. I sincerely thank the facility residents, families and friends for believing and following the government's rules. The government will put its best efforts to recover facility residents' daily lives in a healthy and safe way," said Park Hyang, head of the COVID-19 Quarantine Policy Coordination Unit at the CDMH, during the press briefing.