The Government of Ontario’s been the subject of a number of criticism lately for their Keeping Ontario Safe and Open framework, but the problems with that policy are being compounded by the problem of increasing COVID-19 cases. On Friday, the Premier and his cabinet tried to address some of those issues, and also announced some changes to the colour conditions in a number of areas, including our own.
“Our number one priority right now is getting the numbers down and keeping people safe. That’s why, on the recommendation of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, we’re updating the framework with new thresholds so we can slow the spread of this virus,” said Premier Doug Ford in a statement.
As reported on Thursday, officials in Public Health Ontario told the Toronto Star that their thresholds for establishing when a public health authority moves on to a new level up the ladder to lockdown were not used by the government. The PHO reported that their numbers were much tighter than the ones presented by the Provincial government last week, but now Premier Ford is phrasing the adjustment to the colour system as a tightening of public health measures.
“These adjustments are necessary to respond to the latest evidence we’re seeing and we are prepared to make further adjustments as the health experts continue to review the current public health restrictions,” Ford said. “We must do whatever it takes to stop our hospitals from being overwhelmed and protect our most vulnerable.”
Under the new measures, and because of the increasing local case counts, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health is moving from Yellow-Protect to Orange-Restrict. Our neighbours in the Region of Waterloo, Niagara Region and Brant County will also be moving to orange while Hamilton, Halton Region, York Region and Toronto are all moving to Red-Control.
Under Orange-Restrict all social gatherings are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, it puts a limit on religious services and weddings at 30 per cent capacity, puts new limits on indoor dining, closes most personal care services, and puts capacity limits on entertainment venues like casinos, cinemas, and other live performance venues.
“The latest modelling shows a concerning situation in our province. Worldwide we are seeing COVID-19 cases continue to rise, and Ontario is no exception,” said Ontario Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams. “It remains critical that everyone continue to strictly follow public health advice to protect yourself and your community. We bent the curve during the first wave and, although it will be challenging, we can do so again through the collective actions of all Ontarians.”
There were 10 new cases of COVID-19 in our area on Friday according to Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, which put the active case count to an even 100 at the moment. By area that’s 37 in Guelph, 33 in Wellington County, 23 in Dufferin County, and seven that are unassigned. The number of fatalities remains at 38, and the total number of cases in our region since March is 1,018.
Meanwhile, there were still 1,396 new cases to bring the provincial total since the start of the pandemic up to 91,180. Nearly two-thirds of those new cases were in Toronto and Peel Region alone, with an additional 155 cases in York Region. In Central West, which includes Hamilton, Halton, Waterloo and our own public health authority, there were 184 new cases between the seven health units.