ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Many nursing homes in the Rochester area still haven’t been able to welcome visitors back. When the state announced new guidelines a couple of weeks ago, many thought visitation would go back to normal but there’s a rule that is continuing to be a barrier to opening nursing home doors again.

The state’s nursing home guidance lays out testing protocol, says only 20% of residents can have guests at once, and explains where loved ones can gather. But the 14 day COVID-free rule is what many say is preventing family members from even getting in the doors. Nate Sweeney is the vice president of skilled serves at St. John’s.

“Right now an employee who works in the business office or is a groundskeeper would shut down visitation for the whole building even if they have no resident contact. If it referred to a particular floor being on quarantine that would provide a lot more access to families,” said Sweeney.

He said the facility had a date set to reopen when the state announced the new guidelines but it had to be pushed back due to cases popping up.

“Nursing homes are doing more testing than just about anybody else…So the likelihood you’ll have someone turn up positive is pretty high,” he said.

Sweeney said we have to take this seriously but he wants targeted guidance that keep residents at the center. For now, he said he’s bracing for incremental steps towards normalcy.

“Things aren’t happening as fast as people would like and that builds into all of the emotions of separation. We’re coming up on the exact one year date of the doors being closed.”

He said St. John’s target reopening date is Monday, March 15 as long as they don’t have another case before then.