MONTREAL -- A day after Quebec's chief coroner ordered a public inquiry into deaths in the province's beleaguered long-term-care facilities, or CHSLDs, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has announced it is easing public-health restrictions in the residences.

Residents of CHSLDs that do not have current outbreaks of COVID-19 may now go outdoors without supervision, may take day trips outside the residences and may receive visitors inside or outside of the residences, all while respecting other public health directives such as physical distancing and frequent handwashing.

The easing of those restrictions do not broadly apply to CHSLDs that have an active outbreak of COVID-19. However, residents in unaffected sectors within a CHSLD with an outbreak may, with the authorization of CHSLD and public health officials, go outdoors and have vistors outside the residences, but not inside the facilities.

As of Thursday, some 4,600 of the roughly 5,300 COVID-19 deaths in Quebec occurred at public or private long-term care facilities for seniors, about 87 per cent of the total deaths due to COVID-19 in the province.

The facilities have been plagued by a chronic shortage of staffing prior to and during the pandemic, which the province is attempting to rectify through a mass recruitment and training campaign for new orderlies to work in the facilities.