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St. Luke's in Duluth will soon require visitors to provide proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test.

The health system revealed the new visitor policy Friday, noting it will go into effect Monday, Jan. 17.

Beginning that day, anyone visiting inpatient, emergency department or surgical patients will have to show they have been fully vaccinated (meaning it's been at least two weeks since the final dose of a vaccine series) or a negative COVID test taken within the past 72 hours. Rapid antigen tests won't count.

Related: Amid unprecedented COVID surge, Allina Health bans visitors from its hospitals, clinics

There are a few exceptions to this requirement, including:

  • Someone visiting an end-of-life patient
  • One adult support person in labor and delivery (as well as certified doula, if applicable)
  • Parents or guardians of pediatric patients
  • The support person for a patient with disabilities

The health care team can also make "rare exceptions," but only on an "invitation-only basis."

Related: Duluth becomes first non-metro city to bring back mask mandate

Visitors will be prohibited from coming inside if they are awaiting a COVID test result and or have been asked to quarantine because of a possible exposure. Someone who had close contact with a person who tested positive in the past 14 days will be barred from entry unless they are fully vaccinated.

St. Luke's is also tightening visitor guidelines in general, with many patients only able to see one adult visitor per day, unless they are "critically unstable" or near the end of their life. And in almost all cases, once a visitor leaves the campus, they cannot come back until the following day.

Related: Northland doctors, nurses issue COVID video plea: 'Please, get vaccinated'

Any patients who have COVID, or are suspected to have COVID, will not be allowed to have visitors until they are no longer contagious or no longer in isolation. There are exceptions for labor and delivery, pediatric patients and end-of-life situations. 

St. Luke's said the new guidelines are for "the safety of all during the COVID-19 pandemic."

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