(Files by Catherine Garrett-MyPGNow)

A hug from a grandparent will now become a reality for BC residents, after nearly three and a half months without.

The B.C. government is easing restrictions around visits to long term care facilities, allowing for one visitor per resident in a designated area.

“There have been many dark and anxious days, today is a lighter day for us all,” said Provincial Health Officer Doctor Henry, explaining that allowing one specific visitor per resident will allow for them to be trained to conduct visits safely.

These new regulations do not apply to facilities currently in an outbreak (Five currently), there must be designated screening staff, there will be indoor and outdoor spaces for meeting, visitors must also book in advance and wear a mask.

Dr. Henry says assisted living residents will have more freedom but will have to follow public health guidelines.

Hairdressers and barbers can go into facilities but they have to complete a safety plan.

Dr. Henry is recommending visitors limit their own interactions to essential only, and added the policy will be reviewed on a monthly basis.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says the province will be providing up $160 million to hire up to 2,040 new staff for care homes (3 per home) to help manage the visitations and ensure safety standards.

Dr. Henry says the visits will have to be suspended if there is a spike in cases.