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End of stay-at-home orders eyed for February 16: Province

February 11, 2021   ·   0 Comments

The Province is eyeing an end to stay-at-home orders in most parts of Ontario on February 16.

The Ontario Government announced a move back into a Regional approach to combatting COVID-19 on Monday, announcing that, as of Wednesday, February 10, three public health units would no longer be subject to stay-at-home orders with 28 other public health units – including Simcoe Muskoka District Public Health Unit (SMDHU) proposed to follow suit next Tuesday.

COVID-19 hotspots such as York and Peel Regions and the City of Toronto will have stay-at-home orders apply until Monday, February 22.

“Our number one priority will always be protecting the health and safety of all individuals, families and workers across the province,” said Premier Doug Ford on Monday. “But we must also consider the severe impact COVID-19 is having on our businesses. That’s why we have been listening to business owners, and we are strengthening and adjusting the Framework to allow more businesses to safely reopen and get people back to work.”

To support the province’s economic recovery, the government has updated the Framework to allow for a safer approach to retail. Limited in-person shopping in Grey-Lockdown zones will be permitted with public health and safety measures, such as limiting capacity to 25 per cent in most retail settings. In addition, public health and safety measures in retail settings will be strengthened for other levels of the Framework. Individuals will also be required to wear a face covering and maintain physical distance when indoors in a business, with limited exceptions.

Other measures include a requirement for individuals to wear a face covering when attending an organized public event or gathering (where permitted) if they are within two metres distance of another individual who is not part of their household (both indoor and outdoor). All other requirements for gatherings and organized public events would be maintained.

In his weekly update, Dr. Charles Gardner, SMDHU’s Medical Officer of Health, met the news with some degree of caution, noting that while stay-at-home orders are set to come to an end, the public needs to maintain a stay-at-home mentality in order to continue flattening the curve.

“If I look at our data on this, I would make the case that we would be better served to be in RED (Control) as more protective given that we have the variants of concern, but in fact the trend we had overall has been downward and our indicators are a mix between Red and Orange,” said Dr. Gardiner on moving back into the Province’s framework. “We shall see what decision the Province makes on this.

“There’s a substantial difference between Orange and Red with regards to gathering sizes and the number of people that can be in restaurants. Certainly, that would be better for business, but it would be a higher risk of transmission for our community. This is something I would want to be in communication with the Province about and I would like to look at this from the point of view of disease transmission and control, protecting our population.

“I will continue with the messaging that regardless of where we end up, it is very wise of us all if we continue to abide by a stay-at-home approach with this. It will cease to be an order, that it would remain as an approach that is important for reducing transmission in the community.”

To date, New Tecumseth has seen a total of 747 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the global pandemic, with 641 cases now marked as recovered. There have been 15 fatalities related to the virus.

Between February 3 and 9, 15 new cases were reported in the community, in line with the Province-wide decline of new cases. Of the 15, 13 are attributed to close contact or local transmission with the remaining 2 cases under investigation.

By Brock Weir



         


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