SAN FRANCISCO—The SF Public Health Department released a letter which has allowed SF residents to visit their loved ones at nursing homes outdoors. The decision went into effect on September 5, and comes after the city of San Francisco released a new set of updated COVID-19 rules last week.

Under the new rules for visits outlined by the San Francisco Public Health Department, nursing homes in San Francisco that have been free of new coronavirus infections for two consecutive weeks may offer supervised, one-hour visits outdoors so family members have the opportunity to visit their loved ones.

Physical contact such as hugging, hand-shaking and touching are prohibited during visits. Nursing homes will also take temperatures of visitors and screen for COVID-19 symptoms, as well as ensure that masks are being properly worn and social distancing is followed throughout the duration. A total of four people can visit each person residing in a home, which can consist of either four from one household, or two from separate households.

This is the first time that any visitors have been allowed at nursing homes since the start of shelter-in-place orders in March. Throughout the spring, nursing homes across the country had the highest density of coronavirus cases. According to statistics from the Center For Disease Control, deaths at nursing home and assisted-living facilities account for nearly 39% of all COVID-19 deaths in California.