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The St. George Care Community longterm care home at 225 S. George St. in Toronto's Annex neighbourhood, on Jan 6.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Ontario long-term care homes won’t accept general visitors or allow residents to leave for social reasons starting this week.

Long-Term Care Minister Rod Phillips said that COVID-19 is spreading in the community and allowing general visitors would risk exposing vulnerable residents to the virus.

“More people coming in from the community when there’s more COVID in the community inevitably will lead to more spread,” Phillips told a news conference on Tuesday. “That’s the rationale behind it.”

Two designated caregivers will still be allowed to visit each resident after the changes take effect Thursday at 12:01 a.m.

Palliative visits will be allowed, and residents can leave for essential reasons like medical appointments.

Phillips said 41 long-term care homes were experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks as of Tuesday, up from 37 the previous day.

Ontario chief medical officer reviewing COVID-19 isolation guidelines

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