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Waterloo Region remains in red zone of pandemic response system for another week

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With similar COVID-19 numbers to a week earlier, few were probably surprised when the province announced that Waterloo Region would remain in the red-control level of the province’s colour-coded COVID-19 pandemic response system for at least another week.

The province also announced that Toronto Peel region will finally move out of the stay-at-home order and into the grey zone while Haldimand-Norfolk drops to orange.

Read more: ‘When will it end?’: New data suggests COVID-19 could become endemic

The government uses several epidemiological factors to decide where to place a public health unit as well as the number of outbreaks and level of community transmission.

A week ago, Waterloo Region’s weekly incidence rate was around 58 per 100,000 with a per cent positivity rate of around 2.8, which put the area squarely in the red category, while an effective reproduction number of 1.1 fell just below the 1.2 red threshhold.

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As of Thursday, the area’s weekly incidence rate stood around 56 per 100,000 with a per cent positivity rate of around 3.0, setting the area in the red category while the effective reproduction number remains at 1.1.

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In addition, there are now 29 active COVID-19 outbreaks in the region, a giant leap from the 22 reported a week earlier.

Remaining at the red-control level leaves residents dealing with the most restrictive measures that can be placed on an area, shy of a lockdown.

For supermarkets, that means a limit of 75 per cent of capacity, with a 50 per cent capacity limit for all other retailers. Stores are required to post those capacity limits in addition to having signs outside noting mandatory masks.

Read more: North Bay, Parry Sound to move to red-control zone of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework March 8

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There are limits on public events and social gatherings to five people indoors and 25 people outdoors, excluding weddings and funerals, which will be limited to 30 per cent of capacity indoors or 100 people outdoors.

At restaurants, casinos, bingo halls, event spaces, and fitness facilities, there are limits of 10 people in indoor areas.

Sports teams are allowed to practise again, though they cannot play games yet.

Movie theatres, performing arts venues, oxygen bars, steam rooms, saunas, bathhouses and other adult venues will all remain closed while the region is under the red status.

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