Editor’s note: This story has been changed to reflect that there are fines associated with the health unit’s new Section 22 order.
As the Hastings Prince Edward region moves into the province’s green level of its reopening plan, Dr. Piotr Oglaza, the local medical officer of health, is imposing travel restrictions in an effort to quell the potential spread of COVID-19 and its variants of concern in the region.
According to a press release from the health unit, starting Wednesday, bookings for accommodations, personal services and dine-in food will only be permitted for people in regions where the province’s stay-at-home order has lifted.
For the next week, that will include only the Hastings and Prince Edward regions, the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington region and the Renfrew region, which are all allowed to exit the province’s lockdown Wednesday as the state of emergency expires.
The rest of the province, save the Greater Toronto Area, will be moved into Ontario’s colour-coded system Feb. 16.
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According to Oglaza, the new order will work on the basis of an honour system, and will simply require businesses to ask where people are from. He said the order is meant to give people the option to deny services to clients on the basis of their region, but is not meant to be punitive. Nevertheless, if someone contravenes the order, they could be fined $5,000 per day.
Oglaza said he has heard from several short-term accommodation business-owners that they will be implementing extra screening measures as well, which is their right to do.
The news rules implemented by the local health unit will not apply to people travelling for essential purposes, the health unit said.
Public health will also make it mandatory that restaurants limit tables to six people, that all foodservice and personal service establishments collect contact information from customers, and that retailers post a visible safety plan, wear appropriate PPE and keep music at a low volume.
The move comes just hours after the Kingston-region medical officer of health announced that he too was considering imposing an order that would require identification for access to services in his region.