COVID-19 guidelines for congregate living settings
Learn about the current measures to protect staff and residents from COVID-19.
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We continue to recommend that you wear a mask in congregate living settings.
Agencies providing congregate living services (except youth justice directly operated facilities) must follow:
- Ministry of Health guidance for long-term care homes, retirement homes and other congregate living settings for public health units
- Other health guidance, including local public health direction
- The October 2022 interim direction on this page about rapid antigen testing
October 2022 interim direction
This direction applies to MCCSS-funded and licensed congregate living settings including:
- Adult developmental residences
- Intervenor residences
- Violence against women shelters
- Anti-human trafficking residences
- Children’s residential facilities
- Indigenous Healing and Wellness services facilities
- Youth justice transfer payment recipient open and secure facilities
Read the specific guidelines for youth justice directly operated facilities.
Use of Rapid Antigen Testing
Dependent on test kit availability, and until further notice, congregate living settings are to use rapid antigen tests to:
- Regularly screen all staff who enter a congregate living settings, regardless of vaccination status, in alignment with the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Provincial Testing Guidance
- Congregate living settings that are currently using at-home antigen screening for staff may continue to do so.
- A staff member with a positive result on a rapid antigen test will be presumed positive for COVID-19 and must not be permitted entry to the congregate living setting. Service providers will follow existing guidance for positive case management.
- While MCCSS congregate living settings have been identified by the Ministry of Health as a priority for PCR testing, where such testing is not available, any positive results from a rapid antigen test will no longer require a confirmed laboratory-based PCR or molecular point of care test (e.g. ID NOW).
- Regularly screen all visitors entering a congregate living setting, regardless of the visitor’s vaccination status.
- A visitor with a positive result on a rapid antigen test must not be permitted entry and should be encouraged to follow public health direction for persons presumed positive for COVID-19.
- Make rapid antigen screening available for residents who return to a congregate living setting from an overnight absence, regardless of vaccination status.
- For clarity, it is not mandatory that returning residents undertake the test. However, service providers are strongly encouraged to promote the use of rapid antigen screening by returning residents as a measure to help protect others in the congregate living setting.
- Testing new admissions and transfers, regardless of vaccination status, where PCR testing is not available in a timely manner.
- Rapid antigen screening is to be used on the day of admission/transfer, as part of active screening upon entry, and day four following admission/transfer.
- Testing residents who are symptomatic where PCR testing is not available in a timely manner. See Management of Cases and Contacts of COVID-19 in Ontario for additional guidance re use of RATs for individuals with symptoms of COVID-19.
Read the latest data on COVID-19 in Ontario, learn how to get vaccinated, and learn what to do if you think you might have COVID-19.
Updated: October 26, 2022
Published: February 18, 2022