Federal regulation, 42 CFR § 483.10(f)(4), states “The resident has a right to receive visitors of his or her choosing at the time of his or her choosing, subject to the resident's right to deny visitation when applicable, and in a manner that does not impose on the rights of another resident.”
During the height of the pandemic, residents not only suffered gravely from the virus and shortage of staff, but also from months of forced isolation in their rooms. For many, isolation resulted in depression, cognitive loss, failure to thrive and loss of the will to live. Realizing the unintended consequences of trying to keep residents from contracting COVID-19, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new guidance strengthening a resident’s access to visitors.
Visitation is allowed at all times for all residents, this includes indoor visitation. And facilities can no longer limit frequency and length of visits, number of visitors, or require advanced scheduling of visits. Visitors who are not up-to-date on their vaccinations, should wear masks and physically distance when around other residents, visitors, and staff.
Other mask requirements depend on various factors including the local level of transmission of the virus. Although, the safest practice is for visitors to wear masks and physically distance, especially if either the visitor or resident are not up to date with all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses.
If the county COVID-19 community level of transmission is rated substantial to high, all residents and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, should wear masks and physically distance, at all times.
Residents, regardless of vaccination status, can choose not to wear a mask when other residents are not present and choose to have close contact (including touch) with their visitor.