We were promised a resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall, and it appears that local health authorities are already planning ahead. Medical Officer of Health for Wellington, Dufferin, and Guelph Dr. Nicola Mercer has amended her Section 22 order and has expanded mask mandates starting later this week, while the Region of Waterloo passed an extension of their own masking bylaw.
First to our region, where the update to the Section 22 order has now been extended to all indoor public spaces including galleries, museums, religious institutions, and banquet halls, convention centres and other event spaces. Private transportation services like taxis, limos and ride share vehicles have also been included in the order, which is now extended indefinitely until the order is rescinded by Mercer.
“I am concerned by the increasing numbers in our region. We are seeing COVID-19 cases continue to rise at the same time as schools and campuses reopen,” Mercer said in a media release. “I am including additional establishments within the Section 22 Order to give us the best chance of reducing the spread of the virus.”
According to Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, there were 26 active cases of COVID-19 with the addition of one new case on Wednesday. By area, there are 19 active cases in Guelph, 2 in Wellington County, and 4 in Dufferin County (plus one that is apparently unassigned). There have now been over 600 cases of COVID-19 locally since the start of the pandemic in March.
“Keeping COVID-19 low in the community is vital to protecting all of us and keeping our schools, businesses and other spaces open this fall,” Mercer added. “We must continue to do everything we can to reduce the spread of the virus – even as we acknowledge the pandemic fatigue we are all feeling.”
Meanwhile, up the road in Waterloo Region, members of the regional council spent their Tuesday debating an extension of their mask mandate bylaw. Council passed the bylaw requiring masking in all indoor public spaces and transit back in July but it was set to expire on September 30. The extension will keep the mandate in place until June 2021, and, like the new WDG Public Health order, the bylaw’s been extended to include taxis and ride shares, as well as communal areas like building elevators and lobbies.
“I continue to be supportive of the regional bylaws, requiring face coverings in enclosed public places and on transit,” said the Region of Waterloo’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang at a media briefing on Tuesday. “The bylaws further support my strong recommendation that people wear masks when physical distancing can be a challenge, especially in such settings.”
Yesterday, the Waterloo Region had 68 active cases, for 1,531 total COVID cases since the start of the pandemic.