N.L. is back under Alert Level 3. Here's what that means

·2 min read
A change to Alert Level 3 means some businesses are forced to close as of 12:01 a.m. Thursday. (Jaison Empson/CBC - image credit)
A change to Alert Level 3 means some businesses are forced to close as of 12:01 a.m. Thursday. (Jaison Empson/CBC - image credit)
Jaison Empson/CBC
Jaison Empson/CBC

Newfoundland and Labrador is back in COVID-19 Alert Level 3 as of Thursday morning, brought on by a rapid increase of COVID-19 cases, the emergence of the Omicron variant and outbreaks found across three of the province's regional health authorities.

The alert level change was announced by Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald Wednesday after 60 new cases of the virus were reported. It ties for the second-highest number of new cases the province has seen in a single day, and brings the province's active case count up from 30 to 223 in just one week.

Officials expect numbers to rise during and in the weeks following the holiday season, prompting the change.

The entire province is subject to rule changes, so here's what things will look like until the alert level is reassessed on Jan. 10.

Gatherings and public spaces

As part of Alert Level 3, people are encouraged to maintain a "steady 20." Household bubbles are allowed to interact with 20 close, consistent contacts outside of their bubble.

Informal gatherings, such as holiday parties in a home, are also limited to those in your steady 20.

Other gatherings like weddings, funerals, burials and religious and cultural ceremonies are limited to either 100 people or 50 per cent capacity with physical distancing in place depending on which number is smaller. Public visitations can continue, but wakes are prohibited.

Recreation

Fitness facilities, gyms, swimming pools, yoga studios, tennis and squash courts, arenas and dance studios are all able to operate following the same rules as some gatherings — 100 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is smaller — and physical distancing must be maintained between households.

Amateur sports and recreation can continue under Alert Level 3, but are limited to practices, training and competition among themselves. Competing against other teams, divisions and associations is not permitted. Some sporting associations around the province had already cancelled competition earlier this month until the new year.

Outdoor playgrounds and equipment can be used if owners and operators allow, but outdoor performance spaces are closed. Activities like walking or running, snow-shoeing and hiking are encouraged as long as physical distancing can be maintained.

Businesses

Restaurants can open at 50 per cent capacity for in-person dining as part of the change as long as physical distancing can be maintained. Buffets are prohibited.

Bars, lounges, cinemas and bingo halls are closed.

Retail stores, including shopping malls, can remain open at full capacity. Personal service businesses such as salons, spas, esthetic services, body piercing and tattooing and tanning salons can open in accordance with public health guidelines.

Gary Locke/CBC
Gary Locke/CBC

Child-care services can also operate at full capacity.

Health care

Visitor restrictions are in place for acute care, long-term care, personal-care homes, community-care homes and assisted living facilities in accordance with the guidelines for support persons or designated visitors.

Private health-care clinics can open in accordance with public health guidelines.

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