ORILLIA, ONT. -- The time has come for family and friends to reunite with their loved ones in long-term care and retirement homes.

Over the weekend, IOOF Seniors Homes in Barrie welcomed back dozens of families wishing to visit residents.

The province requires all visits to be outdoors and limited to no more than two visitors per resident.

The IOOF complex is home to several outdoor meeting places, one of which has plexiglass barriers, if required.

"People can come and visit loved ones outside of the property," said Garry Hopkins, the CEO of IOOF Senior homes. "They don't need to be tested or take a PCR test, [but] they do need to be screened."

All other COVID-19 safety regulations remain in place, like masks and social distancing.

Retirement homes are also adapting to several visitor changes.

According to Champlain Manor in Orillia, residents can now visit loved ones outdoors and go on outings with family.

"They can take them home for lunch or dinner, not overnight, at this point. So up to five people not in the same family can be in that gathering," said Alexandra Stone, administrative assistant at Champlain Manor.

Barb Leighton is a resident at an Orillia retirement home and said the province's decision to ease visitor restrictions made her sigh with relief.

Leighton's family lives in Mobile, Alabama, and southern Ontario. Over the last year, being separated from her family has been difficult, with border closures and travel restrictions. She hopes to reunite in the not-so-distant future.

"It's been a long, difficult time," said Leighton.