The decision came Friday at noon from the province, moving the region two levels from “yellow — protect” where it has been since early February. The change impacts the jurisdiction of Peterborough Public Health which includes the city, municipalities in Peterborough County, Hiawatha First Nation and Curve Lake First Nation.
Red is the province’s second-most restrictive level of pandemic measures. The province says the changes will be effective Monday, March 8 at 12:01 a.m.
A significant contributor to the new designation is a major and evolving outbreak at the Severn Court Student Residence in Peterborough involving Fleming College and Trent University students. As of Friday at 9 a.m. there were 45 COVID-19 cases including 34 identified as variants of concern — screened positive for a VoC but the genomic sequencing results have not been received yet to confirm specifically which variant.
There is also an outbreak at Trent’s Champlain College student residence. The university’s tracker states nine active cases of students living on residence as of Thursday afternoon.
As of Friday afternoon, the health unit reported 82 active cases of COVID-19 which includes one confirmed U.K. variant and 51 presumed variants.
“As the number of variant cases spread, I am hoping that the red zone measures will provide our community with the extra protection we need to contain COVID-19 and keep our most vulnerable residents safe,” stated Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, medical officer of health. “There is a real risk that the variants linked to the local outbreaks could spread further out into the community, so I am urging everyone to continue doing their part to follow public health measures and help us avoid going into lockdown.”
Also moving to red are Public Health Sudbury and Districts and the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit.
Under the red-control designation, here is a list what will be impacted:
Face coverings/masks: Required for all indoor workplaces and public spaces (with limited exceptions). Workplaces without face coverings require workers to use additional protection including eye
Gatherings and contact: All organized public events and social gatherings limited to five people indoors and 25 outdoors
Religious services, weddings and funerals: 30 per cent capacity indoors or 100 people, whichever is less
- Capacity limits of 75 per cent for supermarkets and stores that mainly sell groceries
- Capacity limits 50 per cent for retailers, discount and big-box retailers, liquor stores, hardware stores and garden centres
- Stores must post the capacity limit publicly
- Fitting rooms must be limited to non-adjacent stalls
Restaurants, bars, food establishments:
- Maximum of 10 patrons for indoor dining. Seated patrons must provide contact information. No buffet-style service is permitted. Tables two-metres apart. Outdoor dining, takeout, drive-thru and delivery service still permitted
- Not allowed: Buffets, dancing, singing, live music performance, strip clubs (can only operate as a restaurant or bar)
- Time restrictions: establishments must close by 10 p.m.; no alcohol sold after 9 p.m., no alcohol permitted to be consumed after 10 p.m.
Sports and recreational facilities:
- Capacity limits: 10 people for indoor classes or areas with weights or exercise equipment; 25 for outside classes. No spectators except for one parent or guardian per child
- Team sports: Must not be practiced or played except for training (no games or scrimmage) must keep two-metres physical distance, no contact permitted
- Time restrictions: 90-minute time limit for classes and working out (does not apply for sports). Some exemptions apply for high-performance athletes and parasports
- Outdoor ski, ice and snow recreational amenities open for recreational purposes
Closed: Movie theatres, performing arts venues (no audiences), oxygen bars, steam rooms, saunas, bathhouses and other adult venues.
“The onus is not only on businesses and organizations,” said Julie Ingram, public health inspector. “Every individual is responsible for wearing their masks and maintaining two-metres physical distance from non-household members when they visit businesses open to the public. The only exception to this requirement is for personal caregivers.
“Residents are also required to respect the additional measures local businesses will be implementing and continuing to follow good public health protocols, such as limiting shopping trips to one person per household, and staying home if COVID-19 symptoms appear and getting tested.”
Friday’s announcement was a positive move for the Haliburton-Kawartha-Pine Ridge District Unit as it slides to “yellow – protect”, down from the “orange – restrict” designation.
“We’ve had a significant decrease in COVID-19 cases over the last two-week period, so that’s great news to be rewarded with a move to ‘yellow’ because things are looking better,” stated Dr. Ian Gemmill, HKPRDHU’s acting medical officer of health. “That said, I want to urge people not to let their guard down and continue taking COVID-19 precautions because the situation could quickly change.
“We may be open for business, but we can’t assume it’s business as usual,” he added. “Until more people are vaccinated and we can get COVID-19 under full control, we must continue doing all we can to stop the spread.”
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