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Outdoor Visitation Guidance for Long-Term Care Facilities

Posted Jun 3, 20204 min Read

Regulatory & Clinical

On June 3, 2020, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) issued guidance on outdoor visitation for long-term care facilities.  All long-term care facilities, including nursing facilities and assisted living communities, may allow outdoor visitation if the county in which the facility is located has entered Stage 2 of Indiana’s Back on Track Plan, and the facility has had no new facility-onset COVID-19 cases in the past fourteen (14) days among residents or staff.  New COVID-19 admissions to a facility do not constitute a facility-onset COVID-19 case.

Whether or not to offer outdoor visitation is in the sole discretion of the long-term care facility.  The guidance provides various criteria for the facilities, visitors, and residents participating in outdoor visitation as outlined below, although facilities that meet the criteria may still deny outdoor visitation if they believe circumstances pose a risk of transmitting COVID-19 to the facility, or the resident or visitors might be at risk of harm.  Further, outdoor visitation should occur only on days when there are no weather warnings that would put residents or visitors at risk.

Facility Criteria

  • A schedule of visitation hours must be established.
  • Adequate staff must be present to help with the outdoor transition of residents, monitoring of visitation, and wiping down visitation areas after each visit using an approved antiviral disinfectant.
  • Visitors must be screened for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
  • There must be adequate PPE to permit residents, if they are able to comply, to wear a face mask during visitation.
  • Visitors must appropriately wear a face covering or mask at all times.
  • Outdoor visitation spaces must allow appropriate social distancing of at least six (6) feet between residents and visitors and must provide adequate protection from weather elements (i.e., shaded from the sun).
  • Facilities must provide alcohol-based hand rub to visitors and demonstrate how to use it appropriately if necessary.
  • Facilities may establish additional guidelines as needed to ensure the safety of visitations and their facility’s operations.

Visitor Criteria

  • Must wear a face covering or mask during the entire visitation.
  • Must use alcohol-based hand rub before and after visitation.
  • Must stay in the designated facility locations.
  • Visitation should be restricted to children 12 years of age or older. Visitors with children must be able to manage them, and children must be able to wear a face mask during the entire visitation.  Special family circumstances warranting children under the age of 12 to visit can be approved by individual facilities.
  • Must sign in and provide contact information.
  • Must not have signs or symptoms of COVID-19.  Visitors must also attest to their COVID-19 status (i.e., testing results), and if they have had COVID-19, they must provide documentation (i.e., a doctor’s note) that they no longer meet require transmission-based precautions.
  • Visitors may provide food and beverage to the resident consistent with dietary considerations, but food should not be shared between the residents and visitors.

Residents Criteria

Outdoor visitation for residents should be prioritized by the following:

  • Residents must have the ability to safely transition from their room to an outdoor visitation location.
  • Residents who have had COVID-19 must no longer require transmission-based precautions.
  • Prioritization for visitation should be for residents with diseases that cause progressive cognitive decline (i.e., Alzheimer’s disease) and residents expressing feelings of loneliness.
  • Residents who are able to should wear a face mask during the visitation.


FAQs by ISDH Issued on Friday, June 5, 2020 at 7 p.m.

Families can also submit questions at or by calling  317-233-7176 (effective Tuesday, June 9, 2020).