Earlier this week, the Government of Ontario announced their new colour-coded system for the province’s 34 health units to determine what level of COVID-19 restrictions are needed. The government said that there were going to release the starting point for all public health areas on Friday, and they did just that earlier this afternoon, but where is our own region, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph? We’re mellow yellow.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health will officially be labelled Yellow-Protect when the new system goes into effect on Saturday along with other area health units like Brant, Hamilton, Halton, Niagara, and Waterloo. Ottawa and York Region will be entering the Orange-Restrict level, while Peel will be Red-Control. At the request of Toronto Public Health, Canada’s largest city will be delayed before entering the new framework.
So what does life under Yellow look like? Limited hours of operation at bars and restaurants, no liquor or alcohol sold after 11 pm, and no liquor consumed after midnight. People will be limited to six at a table, contact info will need to be collected from people dining indoors, and no loud music can be played so that people can carry on conversations at a normal level. (You spread more droplets when you’re shouting.)
Recreational programs will be limited to 10 people, and patrons working out in fitness classes will have to physically distanced up to three metres. Meeting and event spaces will have to limit their hours and close at midnight. Non-essential retail and personal care services will be allowed to remain open at Yellow level, but those establishments will need to present safety plans if requested. Cinemas, performing arts facilities, casinos and gaming establishments will also be able to remain open, but will have to observe the same rules for selling alcohol as bars and restaurants.
“The framework lays out a proactive and graduated response to be applied based on the local situation in each region,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams in a statement. “By working with the medical officers of health and local authorities on the realities and situations of COVID-19, we want to continue to help protect people’s health and wellbeing. We are adapting the public health measures to be as targeted and efficient as possible to stop the spread of the virus, while managing any outbreaks as quickly as possible.”
Now you may recall that during Tuesday’s announcement Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph was originally listed as green. You are remembering things correctly, but it seems that conditions in our area have hastened an upgrade to yellow. There were 22 new cases of COVID-19 in our area on Friday according to Public Health’s COVID dashboard, which is a big jump from the six new cases counted on Wednesday, and probably part of the reason we’re now on yellow alert. We now have 67 active cases in the area with 31 in Guelph, 15 in Wellington County, 18 in Dufferin County, and three that are unassigned.
Out of the 34 health units, 20 will be listed as Green for now. The new framework will go into effect at 12:01 am on Saturday.