The federal Bureau of Prisons will resume in-person social visits for inmates in October, a practice suspended when the coronavirus began to spread throughout the prison system nearly seven months ago, a bureau spokesperson confirmed to CBS News on Tuesday.
"We are committed to protecting the health and welfare of those inmates who are entrusted to our care, as well as our staff, their families, and the communities we live and work in," the spokesperson said. "It is our highest priority to continue to do everything we can to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our facilities; therefore, every CDC recommended precaution will be incorporated into our visiting procedures."
The bureau, which is home to over 127,000 federal offenders, took precautions in March to help curb the spread of the virus within the federal system's 121 facilities. In addition to suspending in-person social visits, legal visitation was allowed on a case-by-case basis. The bureau also took steps to institute quarantine rules on newly arriving inmates by quarantining and screening them.
Visitation is scheduled to resume on October 3, and inmates and visitors will be required to wear masks, the Associated Press reported, citing an internal memo sent to senior bureau officials. Visitors will be screened and have their temperatures taken, the AP reported, and high-touch surfaces, such as tables and chairs, will be disinfected after each visit.
According to the bureau, 12,610 federal inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus and more than 2,000 tests are still pending. Meanwhile, 118 inmates and two BOP staff members have died as a result of contracting the virus.