EOHU moving to more restrictive red zone Monday

·2 min read
Resto-bar Déjà Vu in Hawkesbury, Ont., on March 17, 2020, after the province's state of emergency forced its closure. In the red zone under Ontario's pandemic framework, fewer people are allowed inside larger restaurants.  (Denis Babin/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Resto-bar Déjà Vu in Hawkesbury, Ont., on March 17, 2020, after the province's state of emergency forced its closure. In the red zone under Ontario's pandemic framework, fewer people are allowed inside larger restaurants. (Denis Babin/Radio-Canada - image credit)

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) officially said Friday that it will be the latest in the region to move to the more restrictive red zone under the province's COVID-19 framework.

"Unfortunately, we are going to be going into the red. There's no doubt about it," Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, EOHU medical officer of health, had told a news conference Thursday afternoon.

He had said the move to red would likely start Monday, to allow people a few days to adjust after criticism a day's notice could be considered too abrupt, and the province on Friday confirmed the timeline.

"In all fairness, I wanted to give the people a couple of days' runway notice for it," said Roumeliotis.

Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, says many of the area's key COVID-19 indicators are now firmly in red-zone territory.
Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, says many of the area's key COVID-19 indicators are now firmly in red-zone territory.(Denis Babin/Radio-Canada)

More restrictions

Red brings with it some of the strictest restrictions on the provincial pandemic scale, second only to grey lockdown.

The move means fewer people are allowed inside larger restaurants, with indoor gatherings capped at five and 25 allowed outside, religious services excepted.

With the exception of drive-ins, cinemas also close. Gyms are limited to 10 people and there will be no team sports or game playing, although training is allowed.

People are also advised not to have visitors indoors and to only leave home for essential reasons. They're also urged to continue to follow public health advice, including wearing a mask, distancing and staying home when sick.

Cases rising

The EOHU's case counts have been trending well into red-zone levels for about a week. There were 29 new cases reported Thursday, with nearly half from the United Counties of Prescott and Russell.

The region's test positivity rate is 2.8 per cent. The number of variants of concern are also surging and now make up 52 per cent of all positive cases, Roumeliotis said.

As of Thursday, there were 137 cases, with all but one being the B117 variant, first identified in the U.K.

There is a lone case of a variant first identified in South Africa.