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 Visiting Guidelines

We know how important visitors are to our patients while they are in hospital. We are doing everything we can to ensure that our patients and their families feel supported and connected during this difficult time.

Effective December 21, 2021 — Due to the evolving COVID situation, visitor restrictions have been updated at all UHN hospitals. Please read the current restrictions before coming to our hospitals.

Vaccination Requirements for Visitors

ALL visitors (Essential Care Partners) entering UHN must show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19.

UHN Visiting Guidelines - Effective Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Visitor restrictions remain in effect, including for people who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19. There is no access for the public, or for visitors/caregivers who have not been pre-approved. All inpatient units at UHN require pre-approval as well. All visitors must be fully vaccinated and pass our entrance screening.

Please read the guidelines below for your specific hospital area or visit type. Additional visitor conditions are listed further down the page for considerations such as age or end-of-life.

No visitors/ECPs permitted, unless patient meets other additional conditions (below).

Daily visit with one (1) ECP, starting from day of admission.

Inpatients who are under 18 years or have an intellectual disability - Eligible for 2 ECPs to visit daily at the same time.

Patients may identify 1 ECP and 1 alternate
Designated ECP - must be the same through your stay
Alternate ECP - may only visit if your primary ECP cannot

Visiting hours - 8:00 am – 9:00 pm; no time limit
ICU - Visits are limited to 6 hours

How to arrange your ECP - Please call the unit in advance to coordinate the visit with the care team.

Note - Essential Care Partners must stay with patients at all times. They are not allowed to travel around the hospital.

1 ECP only for essential support, unless the patient is in isolation.
Essential support includes mobility, significant language barrier, under 18, intellectual/developmental disability.

Visiting Hours - No set visiting hours for the Emergency Departments or for patients in a mental health crisis or life-altering diagnosis

Note - ECPs are not allowed in the Rapid Assessment Area.

Your clinic will call you the day before your surgery to talk about arrangements for your ECP.

1 ECP only if they are essential to supporting your safety while in the hospital
Vulnerable patients (e.g., mobility, significant language barrier, under 18, intellectual/developmental disability) may continue to have 1 ECP for appointments.

ECPs must be pre-approved.

How to get ECP pre-approval - Call the clinic as early as possible before your appointment to ensure your ECP is pre-approved.

Note - ECPs may be asked to wait in other areas, or leave the hospital and return when the patient is ready, to allow for physical distancing in the waiting room.

Outdoor visits up to a maximum of 2 ECPs plus 2 visitors are allowed at Toronto Rehab sites only. Children are permitted and children under 2 are not counted in the total visitor/ECP number.

  • ECPs must be pre-approved, but visitors can be anyone you choose
  • An outdoor visit counts as your visit for the day
  • All ECPs and visitors must speak to the entrance screening staff when they arrive
  • Patients and visitors are expected to mask and physically distance. Sharing food is not permitted.
Additional Patient Conditions
  • A patient who is receiving end-of-life care: Patients who are very close to end-of-life may have Essential Care Partner and family visits daily. The number and length of visits can be planned with the unit manager.
  • A patient who is under 18 years old or has a significant intellectual or developmental disability: 24-hour access for 2 designated ECPs, one person at a time.
  • A patient who needs essential assistance that cannot be supported by the health care team (due to a limited mobility, a significant cognitive or communication barrier): Daily visit with one (1) ECP, within visiting hours.
  • A patient experiencing an acute mental health crisis: 1 designated ECP may be present, at time needed.
  • Patients who self-identify as Indigenous (inpatient or outpatient) may bring an ECP for support

Please remember:

  • All Essential Care Partners must pass our entrance screening at each visit, including people who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19. All ECPs must be fully vaccinated.
  • There is no access for members of the public or other visitors.
  • Masks must be worn by both patients and visitors at all times.
    • Everyone entering UHN must wear a medical mask. If you arrive wearing a cloth or disposable mask from home, screening staff will give you a fresh medical mask to wear instead.
      UHN Masking Policy »
  • If a patient is eating or drinking during the visit, the ECP or visitor must remain masked and maintain physical distancing (minimum 6 feet of distance).
  • ECPs and visitors are not permitted to eat and drink while visiting a patient.
  • Children under 12 are not permitted in the hospital except under special circumstances. This rule does not apply to outdoor visits at TR sites.

Page last updated: January 6, 2022

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Visiting Guidelines (with Table)

 General Visitor FAQ

What is an Essential Care Partner?

UHN is using the term Essential Care Partner to describe essential visitors. You may see either term used at Toronto-area hospitals.

An Essential Care Partner is a support person whose presence is considered essential to the safety and well-being of a patient while they are inside the hospital. They might be a family member, friend, neighbour, paid private caregiver, or someone else. It is up to the patient to choose their Essential Care Partner.

If you would like to identify who your Essential Care Partner is, please discuss it with the inpatient unit or clinic manager. Often, hospital staff and the health care team are able to provide appropriate support in these situations.

 Essential Care Partners are urged to limit close contact before visits and to report any COVID-positive results within 14 days of a hospital visit. If you've been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you cannot enter the hospital.

How do I request approval to be an Essential Care Partner?

If you would like an Essential Care Partner, please discuss it with the inpatient unit or clinic manager. Often, hospital staff and the health care team are able to provide appropriate support in these situations.


What happens if I come to the hospital but I haven't received prior approval?

At Princess Margaret and Toronto Rehab, it is likely that if you come to the hospital without prior approval you will not be allowed to enter. There may be exceptions in very urgent or emergency situations, but these will be limited.

Please follow the approval process to help us ensure a safe environment for our patients, other visitors and staff.

Important: Children under the age of 12 who are not patients are not permitted to enter UHN. Please do not bring children with you to an appointment or to visit. Some exceptions may be made in special situations, but must be approved in advance by a unit or clinic manager.


Can a paid private caregiver enter the hospital if I need extra help?

If you would like a paid caregiver to act as your Essential Care Partner, please discuss it with the with the inpatient unit or clinic manager. Often, hospital staff and the health care team are able to provide appropriate support in these situations.


What can I expect when coming to the hospital with an Essential Care Partner?

All ECPs must check in at the unit and provide their contact information, in case we need to do contact tracing. Depending on the area of the hospital, your ECP may be asked to come at a scheduled time, wear an ID badge, or receive training for properly putting on and removing personal protective equipment (PPE). There may be other requirements to follow.

Your ECP must stay with you at all times. ECPs are not allowed to travel around the hospital. In some cases, ECPs may be asked to wait in hallways or other areas to allow for physical distancing in the waiting room.

Please review our COVID-19 Information page for the most up-to-date information about preparing for your visit, and read the handout What essential care partners need to know before coming to UHN .


Who can I contact if I disagree with a decision for my situation?

For the safety of other patients, visitors and our staff, our clinic and unit managers must follow UHN policies on who can be allowed to enter UHN during the pandemic. They are only able to permit Essential Care Partners for patients or situations that fit within the current safety criteria.

If you are declined approval but feel that you should be eligible, you can contact UHN Patient Relations at 416 340 4907 or patientrelations@uhn.ca.

While an exception may not be possible, the Patient Relations team will help work with you to understand if there is information that the team was not aware of when making their decision.


Is it safe for me to enter the hospital?

Yes, the hospital is safe for patients and Essential Care Partners. We have taken many steps to ensure the safety and well-being of our patients and those providing care to them during the COVID-19 pandemic, some of which include:


How can I prepare for my visit?

If you have been approved as an Essential Care Partner, please read this quick guide before coming to the hospital: What Essential Care Partners need to know before coming to UHN .


Can I visit if I have symptoms, confirmed COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19?

No. Please do not come to the hospital as a visitor if:

  • You have any symptoms of COVID-19
  • You have tested positive for COVID-19
  • You have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19
  • You have had close contact with someone who has suspected COVID-19
  • A doctor, health care provider, quarantine officer or public health unit indicated that you should currently be isolating (staying at home)

My caregiver usually supports me during my appointments, but they are not able to join me as an Essential Care Partner. How can they still support me?

If you are staying overnight in the hospital and your Essential Care Partner is not able to visit you, ask your health care team if you can use a tablet on the unit to have a virtual visit with your Essential Care Partner or other family members.

If your Essential Care Partner is not able to join you at the hospital for an outpatient appointment, they can join you over the phone. Call them on your phone and use the speakerphone so everyone can hear each other.

You can also ask your health care team if you can record your appointment to share with your caregiver later.

  • You can only record in a private setting such as a clinic room.
  • Everyone in the room must agree to be recorded.

Important: To protect everyone's privacy, audio and video recording is not allowed in public and common areas of the hospital.

Page last updated: October 7, 2021

 Visitor Vaccine FAQ

When does the visitor vaccination policy come into effect?

UHN's mandatory vaccination policy came into effect on October 22, 2021.

Download the vaccine policy info sheet »

Looking for vaccination resources? Please visit our COVID-19 vaccine FAQ and vaccine resources pages.


Why is UHN implementing a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for visitors?

As a hospital, it is our responsibility to do everything we can to protect our patients, staff and community. We know that vaccinations are key in helping stop the spread of COVID-19. For that reason, UHN is ensuring that everyone coming to our sites is fully vaccinated. Note – this policy does not apply to patients.


What is the definition of "fully vaccinated?"

To be considered fully vaccinated, you must have received the full series of a COVID- 19 vaccine or combination of COVID-19 vaccines, that are authorized by Health Canada. This means you must have two doses of a two-dose vaccine series, or one dose of a single-dose vaccine series. Your final dose must have been at least 14 days ago.

Vaccines approved by Health Canada include Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, and Janssen/Johnson & Johnson.


If I'm fully vaccinated, do I still need to follow other public health protocols while at UHN?

Yes – all our existing policies and protocols still apply. All visitors must pass the entrance screening questions, and continue to mask and practice physical distancing and hand hygiene while inside UHN spaces.


I'm fully vaccinated but don't have my proof of vaccination. How can I visit a UHN patient?

If you're fully vaccinated, you can download your vaccine receipt from covid19.ontariohealth.ca before your visit. You can show a digital or print copy of your vaccine receipt, along with proof of identity.

If you do not have your vaccine receipt, our entrance screeners can help you download it. You'll need your OHIP card and postal code to access the vaccination portal. Make sure to allow extra time for this process.


I'm not fully vaccinated. Can I provide a negative COVID-19 test or a medical exemption instead?

A negative COVID-19 test result will only be accepted for ECPs who meet the exemption criteria and have been approved to enter the hospital by a unit or clinic manager. If you would like to seek an exemption for another reason, including on medical, religious or other grounds, please ask the manager for an exemption request form. Your request will be reviewed by a panel before a decision is made.


Are there exceptions for ECPs who are not fully vaccinated?

Some exceptions will be made in emergency situations, or on compassionate or human rights grounds. Speak with the patient's care team about exceptions. Pre-approval for an unvaccinated ECP will be needed by the unit or clinic manager, except in an emergency situation.

If an exception is approved, a negative COVID-19 test result will be needed. This can be a rapid antigen screening result done within the last 12 hours, or PCR test result done within the last 48 hours. In special circumstances or emergencies, ECPs may be able to do a rapid self-test at the hospital entrance.

Learn more about COVID-19 testing locations and COVID vaccines in Ontario. Please note, the TW COVID-19 Assessment Centre only tests individuals who meet the current criteria for symptomatic testing.

Conditions for Visitor Vaccine Exceptions

  1. Patients who are near end-of-life.
  2. Patients who are under 18.
  3. Patients who may be receiving a life altering diagnosis, are experiencing a mental health crisis, or who have a significant development or intellectual delay.
  4. Patients requiring a support person to safely attend their appointment. For example, due to dementia, significant developmental or intellectual delay, inability to effectively communicate, or mobility issues that cannot supported by the health care team.
  5. An ECP who has applied for an exemption based on medical or other human rights grounds, and has been approved by the UHN Vaccine Exemption Panel.

I'm assisting someone to the Emergency Department, but I'm not fully vaccinated. What can I do?

If you pass symptom and risk factor screening, you can help the patient to the triage area. You will not be allowed to enter the Emergency Department or wait with them, unless approved for an exception.

If approved, you must do a rapid antigen self-test and receive a negative result to enter.


Can I visit a Toronto Rehab patient outdoors, if I'm not fully vaccinated?

Although proof of vaccination is not required for outdoor visits, we strongly recommend choosing visitors who are vaccinated, if possible. If visitors need to go inside the hospital at any time during the visit, such as to pick up a patient or use the washroom, they will need to show your proof of full vaccination.

Whether you are going indoors or not, you will need to pass hospital COVID-19 screening.


I'm visiting from another province or country. How do I show my proof of vaccination?

If you received a Health Canada-approved vaccine in another province or country, please bring government-issued proof from that jurisdiction.


What about children under 12 years old that are unable to be vaccinated?

As children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for vaccination, they are exempt from this process and will follow our normal process for visitor approval. Please note, children under 12 are currently not permitted at UHN hospitals, except under certain circumstances and outdoor visits at Toronto Rehab.


Who can I speak to if I disagree with a decision for my situation?

For the safety of other patients, visitors and our staff, our clinic and unit managers must follow UHN policies on who can be allowed to enter UHN during the pandemic. They are only able to permit Essential Care Partners for patients or situations that fit within the current safety criteria.

If you are declined approval by the unit/clinic manager, but feel that you should be eligible, you can contact UHN Patient Relations at 416 340 4907 or patientrelations@uhn.ca.

While an exception may not be possible, the Patient Relations team will help work with you to understand if there is information that the team was not aware of when making their decision.


Page last updated: November 9, 2021