Kingston health unit extends party ban until end of university exams

·2 min read
There are currently 39 active COVID-19 cases — out of 53 in the wider community — at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont. (Lars Hagberg/Canadian Press - image credit)
There are currently 39 active COVID-19 cases — out of 53 in the wider community — at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont. (Lars Hagberg/Canadian Press - image credit)

The Kingston, Ont., medical officer of health has extended an order aimed at curbing potential St. Patrick's Day parties until the end of April — the last day of exams at Queen's University — after a surge in COVID-19 cases in the city and at the school.

Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Public Health (KFL&A) is in the green zone, the lowest level under Ontario's pandemic scale. But the number of cases, including those involving variants of concern, has been rising rapidly over the past couple weeks.

Regions in the green zone are allowed to have private gatherings of up to 10 people inside and 25 outside.

But an order issued by Dr. Kieran Moore limited those gatherings to five people both inside and outside between March 13 and 21, and it has now been extended until April 30.

Businesses that serve alcohol will also have to close at 11 p.m. ET each night and stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m.

Singing, dancing and live music also won't be allowed.

"Cases are increasing at a concerning rate in the City of Kingston and it is clear we must take further action to protect our community," Moore said in a release Wednesday.

"We have come so far, and as we provide increasing immunity to our community through immunization, we must all be vigilant and keep our community safe. It is important to remember to stay home, stay local, stay safe, save lives."

Any failure to comply with this Class Order can result in fines of up to $5,000 for every day or part of a day on which the offence occurs or continues.

Dozens of new cases in 2 weeks

The region has seen more than 60 new cases in the past two weeks, including an increase in cases with variants of concern. There are now currently 21 confirmed cases with variants of concern.

Two outbreaks at Queen's University involve at least 39 students both on and off campus, the health unit said.

There are 12 active cases related to the on-campus outbreak — which has spread to the wider Kingston community and has affected students at three elementary schools via a swimming lesson — and involving a variant of concern.

The specific variant of concern hasn't yet been identified because it can take weeks to determine that information through genetic sequencing. A third child at an elementary school has also been infected, Moore told CBC.

Another 27 students have active cases of the illness off campus.