The Ontario government has announced that the region under the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit will move into the province’s COVID-19 red-control zone on Monday.
The news comes as the local health unit is reporting a record number of new weekly COVID-19 cases — just this week, public health officials reported 339 new cases in Simcoe Muskoka.
“As we enter the holiday season and as the province prepares to receive its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines, it remains crucial for all Ontarians to continue adhering to public health advice and workplace safety measures to reduce the spread of the virus and keep each other safe,” Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a statement Friday.
Under the province’s red-control category, there will be further restrictions in Simcoe Muskoka. Gathering limits will be reduced to five people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
Restaurants and bars may only allow 10 people to be seated indoors. Dancing, singing and live music are also prohibited at these venues.
Gyms and fitness centres must also adjust their capacity limits to 10 people in indoor areas with weights and exercise machines, 10 people in all indoor classes and 25 people in outdoor classes.
According to the Simcoe Muskoka health unit, about half of all new coronavirus infections in December with a known cause were acquired from close contact with another positive case and about 20 per cent were acquired in the community with no known source of infection.
On Friday, the region reported 37 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the local total up to 2,584, including 54 deaths.