MDH: Minnesotans can leave long-term care facilities for Easter, other celebrations

Minnesota long-term care facility residents can now leave their facilities for less than 24 hours without having to quarantine when they return, giving many Minnesotans the opportunity to visit family and friends ahead of the Easter holiday weekend.

The Department of Health announced the updated guidance Thursday, allowing for one-day outings for holidays such as Easter, Passover and other celebrations.

Regardless of their vaccination status, in almost all circumstances, Minnesota’s long-term care residents can leave their facilities for fewer than 24 hours and return without having to quarantine as long as they do not come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said, however, that residents and their companions should still follow recommendations like wearing masks and social distancing.

Residents that are gone more than 24 hours will be treated as new admissions or readmissions and will have to quarantine, health officials say.

This update comes after the guidelines were changed in March in the following ways: 

Recommendations related to outings:

  • Residents who are fully vaccinated do not have to quarantine after non-medically necessary outings unless they spend 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period within 6 feet of someone who can spread COVID-19.
  • Residents who are fully vaccinated may gather indoors or outdoors with other people who are fully vaccinated.
  • Residents who are fully vaccinated can visit indoors or outdoors with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 infection.
  • If the resident is fully vaccinated, they can choose to have close contact (including touch) with the people they are visiting.
  • If a resident who is fully vaccinated chooses to attend a place of worship or other group event, or to shop or eat in public establishments, the resident should follow the core principles of COVID-19 infection prevention. MDH strongly encourages attending places of worship or other group events only when the 14-day county percent positivity rate is below 5%.
  • Unvaccinated residents who leave the building to gather with others may be required to quarantine when they return. At this time, quarantine recommendations remain unchanged for an unvaccinated resident, regardless of the vaccination status of those with whom they gather. 

Recommendations related to facility visits:

Residents should be able to have private visits.

  • If a resident is fully vaccinated, they can choose to have close contact (including touch) with their visitor while wearing a well-fitted face mask (if tolerated) and performing hand hygiene before and after.
  • While taking a person-centered approach, outdoor visitation is preferred even when the resident and visitor are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, because outdoor visits generally pose a lower risk of spreading the disease. Visits should be held outdoors whenever feasible. 
  • Compassionate care visits, essential caregivers, and visits required under state and federal disability rights laws should be allowed at all times, regardless of a resident’s vaccination status, the county’s COVID-19 positivity rate, or an outbreak.
  • Facilities in medium or high positivity counties are encouraged to offer testing to visitors as feasible. Visitors should also be encouraged to get vaccinated when they have the opportunity. While visitor testing and vaccination can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, neither testing nor vaccination should be required of visitors as a condition of visitation, nor should proof of such be requested.
  • Screening questions must now include whether the visitor has had close contact in the prior 14 days with someone who is infected with COVID-19 (regardless of whether the visitor is vaccinated). If the visitor answers yes, the visitor should not be allowed to enter.

 For more information on guidance, click here.