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Outdoor Visits Now Allowed At Illinois Nursing Homes; Appointments And Face Coverings Required

CHICAGO (CBS) -- For the first time in three months, visitors will be allowed at Illinois nursing homes, but only for outdoor visits, and only with an appointment.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has prohibited visitors at nursing homes since mid-March -- except for certain "compassionate care situations" such as visiting hospice patients already near death -- to limit the spread of the virus among people who are particularly vulnerable because of their age and pre-existing medical conditions.

Now, nursing homes may allow outdoor visitation, limited to two guests at a time per resident, and only with an appointment. Visitors may not enter the nursing home at any time.

All visitors and residents must wear a face covering during the entire visit, and nursing homes are allowed to set time limits on visits. Facilities should have staff monitor all visits to make sure visitors and residents are wearing face coverings, and following social distancing guidelines by staying six feet away from each other.

Visitors who have symptoms of COVID-19 should not visit a nursing home. Facilities must pre-screen visitors for virus symptoms via phone at least 24 hours before their visit. They also must screen visitors on arrival, using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention symptom checklist and a temperature check.

Nursing home residents who are positive for COVID-19, or showing sympoms of the disease, may not have visitors. Residents must be screened before their visitors arrive.

While all visits must be conducted outdoors, nursing homes are allowed to set up canopies or tents without walls, and visitors must not have to go inside the nursing home to get to the outdoor space where they're visiting a resident.

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