COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — On Monday, some Ohio families were allowed to have their first face-to-face meeting with loved ones in almost three months.

The state partially lifted restrictions so assisted living facilities and intermediate care facilities for people with disabilities could welcome visitors outdoors.

“It’s been, every week, questions [like] ‘When can we visit? When can we go outside with our family members?’” explained Kim Fullerton, executive director at Wexner Heritage Village. “It’s been very challenging, kind of lonely at times, especially if they’re not social.”

71 people live in the complex’s assisted living facility, Creekside at the Village, and another 12 are in memory care at the Geraldine Schottenstein Cottage. No one has tested positively for COVID-19 during the health crisis, which Fullerton credits to firm restrictions.

“We’re doing all of this to be as safe as we can and keep the members as safe as they can be,” she said. 

During the pandemic, all staff have been required to undergo daily health screenings and limit their contact with individuals outside of work. No visitors have been allowed in the facilities since March 13 and instead of meals in the dining hall, residents eat in their apartments.

Herbert Weyl, 95, praised the safety measures Creekside at the Village has been taking, but also said he misses socializing.

“It’s not the same as having meals together with friends and acquaintances, which give us some social life,” Weyl said. “Things have changed.”

As the state lifted some restrictions Monday, Creekside at the Village and the Cottage both welcomed back limited visitors outdoors. Each resident is allowed to have two guests by appointment for 45 minutes. A security guard checks in each person, takes their temperatures, and offers pamphlets about preventing the spread of COVID-19. Once admitted, six people can sit on the front patio, with each seat six feet away from the next.

Many facilities tell NBC4 they’re electing to wait before loosening visitor restrictions. Some are allowing outdoor visits later in the week, while others are suspending visits completely until health concerns taper off.

Each facility can choose when to roll out the state’s latest guidance. Nursing homes are not included in this phase of reopening.

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