TORONTO – A sharp increase in COVID-19 infections in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region prompted officials to move Eastern Ontario back into the Orange-Restrict level on December 14th. The move was announced by the Ministry of Health on December 11th.
The move to Orange means that restaurants can only seat four customers per table rather than six under Yellow level restrictions. Restaurants and bars must stop serving alcohol an hour earlier and close an hour earlier than before. Restrictions for spas, hair salons, and barber shops include no services for anything that requires removing a face mask for a set amount of time. There also will be more restrictions on visitation, volunteering, and testing to enter a long-term care facility to see a family member.
Organized events at residences can have no more than 10 people indoors, 25 outdoors. Public events can have 50 people indoors, 100 outdoors. Physical distancing must be maintained. There are no changes to religious service limits of 30 per cent of room capacity, or 100 people outdoors.
Restaurants are limited to maximum of 50 people and only four people per table.
Gyms and sports facilities have new capacity restrictions put in place, as do movie theatres.
EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis told The Leader last week he expected that the area would move into Orange because of the increase in cases.
The rolling seven-day average of infections per 100,000 people has been above 25 cases. The EOHU reported on December 11th that the average was 49.5.
At the time the formal announcement was made that the region was returning to Orange-Restrict, there were 292 active COVID-19 infections, the highest level at any point so far in the pandemic.
The EOHU region was last in Orange-Restrict between November 16-23.
This region is not the only one affected by the latest announcement. The Leeds, Grenville, and Lanark District Health Unit increased from Green to Yellow level protections Monday. York Region north of Toronto, and Windsor-Essex both entered a 28-day lockdown period.
Those regions join Toronto and Peel regions which have been on lockdown for two weeks.
Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader