The Minnesota Department of Health has announced loosened restrictions for residents of assisted living-type facilities in the state who have received a COVID-19 vaccine.
The new guidance issued Wednesday will allow residents who have been fully vaccinated (two weeks after final dose) to "dine and participate in activities closer than 6 feet" while still wearing face masks when appropriate (ie. not when eating or drinking).
The change has been made possible due to a significant reduction in the number of COVID-19 cases in assisted living facilities and other congregate living settings, where the majority of residents and workers have been vaccinated.
MDH says that among the "highlights" of the new guidance is that fully vaccinated residents "can gather indoors to play cards or sit in the dining room ... with people living in another unit or household within the assisted living setting."
They can also "gather informally" with those who have not been vaccinated or who don't disclose their vaccination status, provided they take precautions to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19.
"Due to the real impact we are seeing high vaccination rates have on the spread of disease and serious illness, we as state regulators of assisted living are changing our guidance to allow for more open dining and activities to better meet the needs of residents, families and providers,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm.
For now, the guidance change doesn't extend to the state's skilled nursing facilities or nursing homes serving a higher-risk population, which much continue to follow CDC guidelines.