Chatham-Kent is trending in the right direction.
Chatham-Kent will move from ‘Red-Control’ to ‘Orange-Restrict’ under Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework. The move into Orange indicates Chatham-Kent saw a weekly incidence rate of 25 to 39.9 new cases per 100,000 residents.
Based on the latest data, Chatham-Kent will move from ‘Red-Control’ to ‘Orange-Restrict’ in the Framework effective Monday, March 1, 2021, at 12:01 a.m.
Windsor-Essex is expected to remain in ‘Red-Control’ for at least another week.
The move brings some changes as Chatham-Kent changes restriction levels. Among the biggest changes is regarding gathering sizes in organized venues.
Under ‘Orange-Restrict’, up to 50 people can now gather indoors and 100 outdoors as long as physical distancing can be maintained in places such as restaurants.
Additionally, religious services can now move to 30 percent capacity indoors or 100 people outdoors.
The limit on private gatherings remains at 10 for indoors and 25 outdoors with distancing and masking protocols in place. However, health officials continue to recommend not gathering indoors.
While many restrictions that were in place under ‘Red-Control’ will continue, locations such as restaurants and bars may now remain open until 10 p.m. Additionally, dancing, singing, karaoke and musical performances are allowed with restrictions.
Movie theatres and performance venues can also reopen with a limit of 50 people indoors and a number of restrictions in place, including masking, screening and collection of contact information.
Despite the numbers trending in the right direction, Mayor Darrin Canniff said now is not the time to be complacent.
“The more people that get vaccinated, the better off we’ll be,” said Canniff. “The light is at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine. We just need to be patient for another few months and, hopefully, most of this will be behind us after that.”
On February 26, a third COVID-19 vaccine, “AstraZeneca,” was approved by Health Canada. A fourth vaccine, being developed by Johnson & Johnson, is still awaiting approval.
“I’m really hoping that Health Canada approves it soon,” said Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health, “A single-dose product that only needs refrigeration; wow, we can really work with that and get it distributed in a widespread way. The vaccines that need freezing are very effective, but they’re cumbersome to transport and to deal with.”
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News