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Hamilton’s COVID-19 death toll rises to 72, as city seeks to clarify ‘red’ zone rules

Hamilton's emergency operations director says there is confusion around COVID-19 "red" zone rules, as it relates to recreational services.
Hamilton's emergency operations director says there is confusion around COVID-19 "red" zone rules, as it relates to recreational services. Will Erskine / Global News

Two more seniors have died of COVID-19 in Hamilton, as the city seeks clarification around some “red” zone rules.

Hamilton’s emergency operations director is acknowledging that “discrepancies” in the provincial regulations are frustrating to him, frustrating to city staff, frustrating to city council and frustrating for members of the public.

Read more: How Hamilton entered Ontario’s COVID-19 red level and what to expect

Paul Johnson, speaking to the general issues committee on Wednesday, noted that “the regulations, which are what the city can enforce, do not always line up with what was announced through some of the public materials around what these levels look like.”

Johnson identifies eating establishments, specifically in malls, as one area of confusion.

According to the provincial COVID-19 response website, the red zone parameters for general public health measures (gatherings, workplace requirements and face coverings), include:

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  • Gathering limit for all organized public events and social gatherings:
    • 10 people indoors
    • 25 people outdoors
  • Face coverings required in:
  • Where patrons without face coverings are within two metres of workers, workers must use additional protections such as eye protection
  • Workplaces must develop and implement a communication/public education plan (highlighting risk)
  • Physical distancing must be maintained

Read more: Health officials single out Hamilton restaurant for alleged COVID-19 infractions

Johnson says “from a city service perspective, recreation is a source of great debate at the moment,” adding that he’s seeking clarification on questions such as ‘how many people are allowed on the ice, in the pool or on the basketball court at one time’?

His expectation is that the number of people who will be permitted to be in recreation centres will be lower than the 50 announced in a media release by the city on Sunday, as Hamilton was about to enter the red zone.

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View the specific provincial rules relating to sports and recreational fitness facilities in red zones here.

Read more: Ontario reports 1,417 new coronavirus cases, 32 more deaths

Hamilton Public Health confirmed 39 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths on Wednesday.

The latest deaths include a woman in her late 80s living at Chartwell Willowgrove long-term care residence in Ancaster. An outbreak at the home on Old Mohawk Road, which involves 67 residents and staff, has now claimed the lives of 13 residents.

A man in his mid-70s from Hamilton Continuing Care has also succumbed to the virus, according to public health.

The virus has now claimed 72 lives in Hamilton since the start of the pandemic.

No new outbreaks were reported on Wednesday, and the number of active cases of COVID-19 in the city is 343.

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