MDH Updates Dining and Activity Guidance for Assisted Living-Type Facilities

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP 
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has updated its guidance for dining and activities for assisted living-type facilities.

This guidance for assisted living-type facilities will allow residents who are fully vaccinated to dine and participate in activities closer than 6 feet while still wearing masks as appropriate.  MDH made the change due to lower numbers of COVID-19 cases in assisted living facilities and the higher vaccination rates of residents.

“Due to the real impact we are seeing high vaccination rates have on the spread of disease and serious illness, we as state regulators of assisted living are changing our guidance to allow for more open dining and activities to better meet the needs of residents, families and providers,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm.

The guidance change does not include Minnesota’s skilled nursing facilities or nursing homes that serve a higher-risk population. These facilities must follow federal guidance set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

Major highlights of the MDH guidance change for assisted living-type facilities: 

  • People who are fully vaccinated can gather indoors to play cards or sit in the dining room, for example, with people living in another unit or household within the assisted living setting. 
  • People who are fully vaccinated can gather informally with other unit or household of people who are unvaccinated or who do not disclose vaccination status if everyone follows guidance to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 
  • Fully vaccinated people can sit closer than 6 feet apart during organized activities and dining in the assisted living setting. MDH recommends that each person wears a well-fitting mask when gathering closer than 6 feet, except when eating.   

People are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 two weeks after their second dose of a vaccine that requires two doses (like Pfizer or Moderna), or two weeks after they get a single dose of a vaccine that requires one dose (like Johnson & Johnson). Each apartment in the assisted living or independent living setting is considered a household. 

The updated guidance is available at the webpage COVID-19 Guidance for Dining and Activities in Assisted Living Settings (PDF).

In other guidance matters, on Monday, March 29, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated guidance for nursing homes and long-term care facilities on infection prevention and control recommendations, including updated information for residents who leave the facility. MDH is actively working to update our guidance to reflect these changes.  At this time, dining and activities guidance for nursing homes has not changed.