Indoor visits allowed at nursing homes

Communal dining, exercise can also resume

STARTING FRIDAY, nursing homes can start allowing residents to meet with visitors indoors, to eat in communal dining halls, and to use indoor gyms or exercise spaces.

Nursing homes have been ground zero in the fight against COVID-19. There have been 6,011 COVID-19 deaths at the state’s long-term care facilities, nearly 66 percent of the 9,150 COVID-19 deaths in the state. At the beginning of the pandemic, all visits to nursing homes were halted. As the spread of infection slowed, outdoor visits were allowed.

The new guidance from the state Department of Public Health allows indoor visits, but only in a designated visitation space near the entrance to the facility that is big enough to allow the resident and guest, who are required to wear masks, remain six feet apart.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

The resident and the visitor can also have physical contact as long as hand sanitation is used before and after the contact. The guidance says the resident and visitor can “hug with faces in opposite directions.”

The guidance also allows nursing home residents to resume communal dining and indoor exercise as long as residents are spaced six feet apart and the exercise area is cleaned and disinfected after each use.

Nursing homes are required to check for COVID-19 symptoms of all guests, including taking their temperature. The facilities also cannot allow indoor visits, communal dining, or exercise if they have inadequate staffing or have inadequate supplies of personal protection equipment.