AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Health and Human Services Commission will now allow more visitation options at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Starting Tuesday, any resident who is fully-vaccinated against COVID-19 can have close contact with visitors for as long as they wish, and up to two “essential caregivers” can visit a resident with any COVID-19 status at the same time. Outdoor visitations, even when a facility has an outbreak, are allowed at all facilities.

Facemasks are still required, however, as all visitations will move forward with “proper safeguards” being in place, HHS said in a press release Tuesday.

“Safely visiting with family and friends is vital to the mental health and well-being of long-term care residents,” said Victoria Ford, HHS chief policy and regulatory officer. “We are so pleased these new rules will allow residents to enjoy in-person visits with a wider circle of loved ones.”

End-of-life visits for all residents, regardless of COVID-19 status, now include a broader definition to allow for residents receiving hospice services or whose prognosis is terminal to receive those visits.

Nursing homes no longer need to do the following:

  • Request general visitation approval from HHSC
  • Monitor visits or escort visitors to and from the visitation area
  • Limit indoor visitation to areas with a plexiglass barrier or booth
  • Require documentation of a negative COVID-19 test result for essential caregiver or salon services visitors

The new rules apply in assisted living facilities, intermediate care facilities and home and community-based service providers.

KXAN’s Avery Travis has been following how visitations at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic since it began.