Only essential visitors will be allowed in Vancouver Island Health’s buildings moving forward.

The health authority says it’s changing its policies to help keep staff and patients safe.

Essential visits will be considered for patients who are critically ill, receiving end-of-life care, and for patients who are frail and need an escort or family member for their safety.

Other eligible essential visitors must pass important screening criteria. This means they cannot have a cough, runny nose, fever, sore throat or shortness of breath, and they cannot have traveled outside of Canada in the last 14 days.

Island Health says ‘its important right now to practice social distancing to make sure everyone stays healthy.

“We know that it can be difficult and disappointing to cancel special events and not have contact with family and friends outside your home. However, this is a critically important way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect your friends, family and neighbours, as well as our health-care care system, at this challenging time.”

Social distancing does not mean total isolation. If you do not have symptoms you can enjoy the outdoors and activities that do not bring you into contact with people from outside your home. Enjoy social activities with people in your household and connect with friends and family from a distance via social media or the telephone. You can also take an online course, complete projects at home or take advantage of the many online resources being made available free of charge by museums and performing arts organizations.

This is an unusual time and we thank you for your support, patience and understanding.”