As the number of new COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Niagara, the region will see increased restrictions on businesses starting Monday, including limitations on dining and fitness centres.
The announcement came Friday by Premier Doug Ford that Niagara would be moving up the yellow ‘protect’ level of the province’s new COVID-19 alert system to the orange ‘restrict’ category based on key metrics that continue to show the region trending in the wrong direction.
The changes will impact restaurants and bars the most, who starting Monday will be required to close by 10 p.m., with dining limited to four per table and total capacity of 50 people.
The sale of liquor will also only be permitted until 9 p.m at all dining establishments.
Night clubs will also only allowed to operate as a restaurant or bar, while strip clubs will be closed entirely.
Changes will also be made at gyms and fitness centres which will limit visits to 90 minutes, and will continue to be by appointment only.
In a media briefing on Nov. 12, the region’s acting medical officer of health Dr. Mustafa Hirji noted that Niagara had already surpassed the threshold for two key metrics that would place the region in the orange ‘restrict’ category according to the province’s new framework.
Public heath’s most recent data puts Niagara’s weekly cases per 100,000 population at 44.4, which falls within the 40-99.9 suggested for the orange ‘restrict’ category.
The region’s reproductive number also sits above the category’s 1.0 threshold.
Outside of Niagara, most of the GTHA will see even greater restrictions. As Hamilton, Halton, and York be moved into the red ‘control’ category joining Toronto and Peel region.
In an effort to bring the number of new COVID-19 cases down in Niagara, Hirji announced earlier this week that restaurants and bars in the region would also be subject to additional changes outside the province’s framework from a Section 22 order of the Ontario Health and Promotions Act beginning Nov. 14, when dining will limit dining to people within the same household.
Bryan Levesque, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News