MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — State officials released guidelines Thursday for outdoor visits at long-term care facilities, which have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The guidelines are available at the Minnesota Department of Health website and list criteria for facilities, residents and visitors.

Under the guidelines, social distancing must be maintained during outdoor visits, and visitors must wear facemasks at all times. Additionally, visitors will be screened for COVID-19 and will not be allowed inside the facility.

Residents in long-term care who currently have the novel coronavirus, show symptoms or are under quarantine are not eligible for outdoor visits.

According to health officials, nearly 80% of COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota have been residents in long-term care, such as nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

Because the disease threatens many residents in long-term care, the facilities have effectively been under lockdown since the outbreak began in March. In a statement announcing the guidelines, health officials noted that such prolonged social isolation can have serious impacts on the health and well-being of residents.

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