Limited visitation now will be allowed at facilities that have been without COVID-19 for at least 14 days

New York health officials are easing COVID-19 visitation restrictions for nursing homes under pressure from family members and industry groups.

Nursing homes will soon be allowed to resume limited visitations for facilities that have been without COVID-19 for at least 14 days, down from the current 28 days, state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said Tuesday.

The new rules go into effect Thursday and will allow eligible visitation in about 500 of the state’s 613 nursing homes, Zucker said in a statement.

Previously, about 77% of the facilities were unable to allow visits under the 28-days rules, prompting call from relatives and advocates to reduce the threshold to 14 days.

“We understand how trying it has been for New Yorkers to not see their loved ones and the challenges they’ve had to endure during this unprecedented pandemic,” Zucker said Tuesday in a statement, referring to the eased visitation restrictions.

He added the agency will "continue to be guided by science and concern for residents’ welfare and will monitor nursing homes that host visitors, to make sure this action does not lead to an increase in cases.”

The development came after USA TODAY Network New York reported how families are concerned residents at long-term care facilities are suffering emotional and psychological trauma due to the isolation.

Last week, Zucker eased COVID-19 restrictions on visitation at assisted living facilities and pediatric nursing homes, using the 14-days without COVID rule.

Among the new rules:

• Visitors must present a verified negative COVID test result within the last seven days.

• Visitation needs to be rejected by the facility if the individual fails to present a negative test result, exhibits any COVID-19 symptoms or does not pass screening questions.

• Visits should be limited to outdoor areas, weather permitting,  and under certain circumstances in an inside, well ventilated space with no more than 10 individuals practicing social distancing and mask wearing.

• The number of visitors to the nursing home must not exceed 10% of the resident census at any time.

• Only two visitors will be allowed per resident at any one time.

• Visitors must undergo temperature checks, wear face coverings and socially distance during the visit.

• Visitors under the age of 18 are prohibited.