Nursing home residents in New Jersey are reuniting with their loved ones Sunday for the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak began to ravage the state in March.
Under state Department of Health guidelines, all visits must take place at designated outdoor areas.
Masked staff members must also be in attendance and visitors have to sign a consent form acknowledging that possible exposure to coronavirus can occur, per the guidelines.
"We all know being apart from our loved ones has been one of the most difficult challenges for all of us during this pandemic," Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said on Friday while announcing the relaxed restrictions.
Nursing home residents can have two visitors at a time and they must stay 6 feet apart from each other.
Visitors are also barred from using the bathroom and can be denied access to the facility’s outdoor space if they show symptoms of COVID-19.
A nursing home resident who has been infected with COVID-19 or is in quarantine cannot have visitors, Persichilli said. Once their isolation is discontinued, they are able to have visitors.
Nursing homes residents in New Jersey have been the hardest hit by coronavirus.
As of Saturday, 35,802 residents and staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 and 6,175 people have died.