An NZX-listed national retirement village and aged care chain says nine weeks of lockdown is enough and despite Ministry of Health guidelines to ban visitors, it will open from next week.
Brien Cree, founder and chairman of Radius Residential Care, said despite alert level 3 in Auckland and the Waikato, the business would open its gates from Tuesday.
"As long as people are double-vaccinated and can show they have had a negative test, they will be allowed in. We'll open visitation to loved ones at alert level 3," Cree said referring to seven villages it owns in Auckland and the Waikato.
Cree said the Ministry of Health has advised retirement villages in level 3 areas not to let visitors in due to the Delta outbreak.
In Auckland, Radius has villages at Taupaki in west Auckland, Arran Court in Henderson and Waipuna in Mt Wellington. In Hamilton, it has Glaisale, St Joans, Kensington, and Windsor Court villages.
Visitors will need to make appointments to get in, Cree said.
"We're seeing an increase in stress-related issues, including shingles," Cree said.
"Quite frankly, it has to stop. We're all smart people," Cree said.
"Our residents are in their twilight years and their quality of life must be balanced [with] their quantity of life. After nine weeks of imposed restrictions, some of our residents are feeling isolated," he said.
Radius provides residents with interactions with staff, other residents, and enriching activities, but these simply do not replace time with family and loved ones, Cree said.
"The nation is living with Covid and even the Prime Minister says we're moving away from elimination. Our residents and staff are over 95 per cent vaccinated and our infectious control measures are among the best in the country.
"Radius Care is going to let fully vaccinated people, who can show proof of a negative Covid-19 test dating back seven days, visit loved ones during alert level 3. Visitors will be required to complete a health declaration, including a temperature screening, before each visit," a statement said.
A family can designate two people allowed to enter one at a time.
Designated visitors must give proof that they are fully vaccinated. That means two jabs.
Designated visitors must show proof of Covid negative result after a nasopharyngeal swab test within the last seven days.
Visits will be managed via a booking system to ensure all residents have the opportunity to have two visits per week.
Bookings can be made by calling your Radius today and tomorrow.
The Health Ministry said on October 12: "Under alert level 3, aged residential care facilities continue to operate with only essential and emergency entry to/exit from services being allowed, staff movement between facilities and visiting are limited and managed in a controlled way to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission to residents and staff."
Family and non-essential service visits are not allowed.
Family visits on compassionate grounds will be considered on a case-by-case basis, subject to public health advice, provider assessment and risk screening.
Family visits on compassionate grounds may include situations where the resident is dying, critically ill or has increased confusion or distress, the ministry says.
A response was sought from the ministry about the Radius move.
John Collyns, Retirement Villages Association executive director, said today: "Radius is predominantly an aged care provider rather than a retirement village operator. They have two smallish villages and are good, loyal association members for those two sites. We have no view on their decisions around visitors in their care facilities at level 3."
The view of Simon Wallace, Aged Care Association chief executive, was also sought.
Cree said he had made Wallace aware of what Radius planned on Tuesday.