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Niagara, Brant County to move to red-control level of Ontario’s COVID-19 framework

Don Mitchell / Global News

Both Niagara Region and Brant County will move into the red-control level of the province’s COVID-19 response framework as of 12:01 a.m. Monday.

Ontario made the announcement Friday afternoon following a meeting with health officials.

Niagara reported 442 active cases on Friday, a single-day record for active infections. The region also recorded four new deaths.

Following the declaration, St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik called the move “unfortunate” but admitted the region had reached a “tipping” point.

Read more: Coronavirus: Hamilton reports 86 new COVID-19 cases, outbreak at St. Peter’s hospital

“We’re seeing our health-care system on the verge of being overwhelmed, and that is not a place that anybody wants to be,” said Sendzik.

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Niagara-on-the-Lake mayor Betty Disero characterized the setback as “frustrating” but said there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel with the recent vaccine approvals.

Last weekend, public health recorded consecutive highs in daily cases with 65 on Saturday and 71 on Sunday.

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The region also saw active outbreaks rise to 20 on Friday with six at long-term care homes and two in Niagara Health hospital units.

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Meanwhile, Brant County’s acting medical officer of health hinted in her weekly address on Tuesday the region would be headed for a downgrade on Friday.

Dr. Elizabeth Urbantke said new highs in local case counts over the past week put the region “firmly” in the red-control classification.

“Over the last four days, we’ve seen 40 per cent of cases attributed to close contact transmission,” Urbantke said in her address.

Read more: Coronavirus: Hamilton to move into COVID-19 lockdown on Monday

“We’re definitely seeing an increase in the amount of community transmission cases throughout this period.”

Brant County reported 95 new COVID-19 cases last week. There are 106 active cases as of Dec. 18 with two people receiving hospital care.

The region has now had 709 confirmed cases since the pandemic began.

 

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Some of the new restrictions in a move from orange to red include:

  • limits of five for public indoor gatherings
  • maximum of 10 people indoors at restaurants, mall food courts, bars and event spaces
  • no dancing, singing or live music at bars and event spaces
  • Maximum of 10 at indoor fitness studios.
  • no team sports except for training (no scrimmages)
  • retail stores must maintain two-metre distance between those in line
  • all movie theatres and performing arts facilities are closed except for drive-ins

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