EOHU, Outaouais could soon move to more restrictive red zone

·2 min read
The Outaouais moved from the red zone to the less restrictive orange zone on Feb. 22. (Francis Ferland/CBC - image credit)
The Outaouais moved from the red zone to the less restrictive orange zone on Feb. 22. (Francis Ferland/CBC - image credit)

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) will likely become the latest in the region to move from orange to the more restrictive red zone on the province's COVID-19 framework this week, while the Gatineau, Que., area could soon follow.

The EOHU's case counts have been trending well into red-zone levels for about a week.

The EOHU has 237 known active cases as of Tuesday and more residents (27) with COVID-19 in hospital than any other local health unit.

Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health, told reporters Monday the EOHU would move to red this week, unless there's an unexpected turnaround. The decision will be made along with the Ontario government.

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

With the exception of drive-ins, cinemas also would close. Gyms would be limited to 10 people and there would 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.

Ottawa and Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties are also in red.

Red brings with it some of the strictest restrictions detailed on the province's pandemic scale, second only to grey lockdown.

Next 2 weeks key for CISSSO

Also Monday, the interim director of public health for Centre intégré de santé et des services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSSO) said the next two weeks are important for residents and their pandemic rules.

The wider Gatineau region has seen case counts trend up for about four weeks, said Dr. Brigitte Pinard.

Pinard said activities need to be limited now to turn that trend around.

"We are losing our margin of error," she said in French.

Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin and Premier François Legault's sent similar messages on Tuesday.

There are more than 25 COVID-19 outbreaks in this wider Gatineau area and nearly 170 suspected coronavirus variants of concern, over five times more than the 30 reported three weeks ago, according to Pinard.

The area's COVID-19 test positivity percentage, like Ottawa's, has risen to just under four per cent.

The Outaouais moved from the red zone to the less restrictive orange zone on Feb. 22.
The Outaouais moved from the red zone to the less restrictive orange zone on Feb. 22.(Francis Ferland/CBC)

Among the changes, moving to red on Quebec's scale would mean most religious services, funerals aside, could welcome fewer people in-person.

People in red zones can only use skating rinks or pools alone or with people in their household. Gyms and spas in red zones can open as of Friday.