As Toronto, Peel enter lockdown, Prince Edward County asks travellers to stay put

·2 min read

The health unit for Prince Edward County and the Belleville, Ont., area is urging people to avoid all non-essential travel, especially to and from areas with higher rates of COVID-19, to help the region stay in the green zone.

On Friday, the province announced Toronto and Peel are going into lockdown Monday due to increasing levels of COVID-19 transmission. Ottawa remains in the orange zone along with several others, including the Niagara region. Five Ontario regions are, or will be, in the red zone as of Monday.

Moments after Premier Doug Ford announced the lockdown measures, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) put out a statement urging residents to end non-essential travel.

"Residents are asked to carefully consider how essential their travel and social activities may be, recognizing that any situation where there is close contact with others can increase the risk of contracting and spreading the virus," the statement reads.

In a follow-up email to CBC, the public health authority clarified while there are no travel restrictions in place in Ontario, HPEPH is asking "everyone to reconsider or postpone any discretionary travel to and from areas with higher rates of COVID-19."

That includes travellers from areas like Toronto who might want to visit popular destinations in Prince Edward County, including Picton, Ont.

PEC close to entering yellow zone

The region remains in the green zone, with 15 active cases of COVID-19 in the area, 14 of which are new cases reported in the last week, said the local health authority. That works out to about 8.3 people per 100,000 people with COVID-19. If the rate rises to 10 per 100,000 people, Hastings and Prince Edward Counties could enter the yellow zone.

"Considering the population in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties, HPEPH will exceed this rate if 17 new cases of COVID-19 are identified locally over a seven-day period," the statement said.

Dr. Piotr Oglaza, the medical officer of health for Hastings and Prince Edward Counties, asked residents not to visit with outsiders.

"Every new case in our region increases the risk of local spread and could severely impact our vulnerable loved ones," said Oglaza.

If someone visits the region, the health unit is asking they limit close contacts and sign a digital guestbook, which will help any potential contact tracing efforts.