COVID-19: City officials detail impact of restrictions on London, Ont. municipal facilities

London, Ontario's city hall as seen in October 2021. Matthew Trevithick / Global News

City officials in London, Ont., are providing more information about the impacts of the province’s planned COVID pandemic restrictions on local indoor municipal facilities, and plans for emergency child care for eligible workers.

The Ford government announced Monday that it would move school classes online, pause non-urgent surgeries, and impose business closures and capacity caps to slow the spread of COVID-19 and the highly infectious Omicron variant.

Among the sectors ordered to close as a result of the new restrictions, which take effect Wednesday and last at least 21 days, are indoor sport and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms and municipal arenas.

As a result, all programs at municipal arenas, aquatics facilities and community centres will be impacted, the city said in a statement Tuesday.

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Those registered for a program at an indoor facility will be contacted by phone and email, the city says, adding that more information can be found on its website.

“All participants who have registered for a fee-based program that has been impacted will receive a credit to their user account. Refunds will also be made upon request.”

In addition, the city says memberships will be extended based on the number of days that facilities are closed, and that all facility rentals up until Jan. 27, when restrictions may potentially be lifted, will be cancelled and refunds given.

Click to play video: 'New round of COVID restrictions begin on Wednesday in Ontario'
New round of COVID restrictions begin on Wednesday in Ontario

During Monday’s announcement, the province announced a two-week school closure, days after the government said that kids would attend classes in person on Wednesday.

The province said it would also provide free child care for front-line workers with school-aged children.

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The city says the ministry will implement a “targeted emergency child care program” for enrolled school-aged children for the week of Jan. 10-14.

In a statement Tuesday, the city noted that planning was underway, with further detail to come, including a list of approved emergency child care sites.

The city says the province is re-implementing the same eligibility list that was put in place for the emergency child care program in April of 2021.

“This list also provides municipalities and First Nations with the ability to designate a person as essential as per the unique needs of their community,” the city’s website states.

Ford also announced during Monday’s news conference that the province would reinstate a directive ordering hospitals to pause non-emergent and non-urgent surgeries to preserve critical care capacity and human resources.

It comes as local and provincial hospitals have seen increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients in their care, and rising infections involving staff. At least 59 COVID-19 patients were in the care of London Health Sciences Centre as of Tuesday, with 10 in adult critical care/ICU — an increase of 31 and one, respectively, since Friday.

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Meanwhile, at least 210 LHSC staff were listed as being positive with COVID as of Tuesday, up from 152 on Friday. Outbreaks have also been declared in two inpatient areas, one at University Hospital and one at Victoria Hospital.

“We will be transitioning ambulatory care appointments from inpatient to virtual care, where possible,” said Carol Young-Ricthie, executive vice president and chief nursing executive at LHSC, during a media briefing Monday.

“Any patients whose surgery or procedures are affected will be contacted directly by their care team. We ask patients who have not been contacted to please come to their appointment as scheduled.”

The move represented a policy reversal for hospitals that have spent recent months prioritizing resources to catch up on a vast backlog of procedures that were delayed during previous waves of coronavirus infection.

It’s not clear yet how many procedures may be impacted at LHSC by the latest move.

— with files from The Canadian Press


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