Earlier this year, Six Nations of the Grand River had one of the worst rates of COVID-19 in the province when measured by active cases per 100,000 people.
Today there are no active cases on the reserve, which is cause for celebration for Elected Council Chief Mark Hill.
“Our community has worked diligently to get to this point after a very difficult year,” Hill said Monday.
“We are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.”
With active cases at zero for the first time since December and the vaccination rate increasing, public health and elected council will move the reserve from alert level black — the highest under Six Nations’ customized system — to red as of midnight on Wednesday.
Private gatherings with people of different households are still not allowed, but “monitored gatherings” of five people indoors and 10 outdoors will be permitted.
People can dine outside and gyms can reopen, though everyone must maintain a three-metre distance inside and wear a mask when not exercising.
While the province has introduced a three-step reopening plan, Hill said Six Nations will chart its own course because the reserve’s reopening framework “takes into consideration local context.”
Each week, the emergency control group assesses the state of the virus, health-care capacity on the reserve and in surrounding communities, and how well residents are adhering to public health measures.
Hill said the current risk level was determined to be low, adding further loosening of the restrictions could follow in the coming weeks if the situation remains stable.
“Even though we are optimistic, it is still very important to continue following all public health guidelines,” the chief said.
“COVID-19 is still spreading in surrounding areas and still has the potential to spread within our territory.”
Six Nations has had 526 band members test positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Eleven people have died.
Just under one-third of adult band members have received a first dose of the vaccine, with 27 per cent fully vaccinated.
J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator