Earlier this week, our local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Nicola Mercer suggested that Wellington, Dufferin, and Guelph should be moved into the Red-Control level this week due to the increasing rate of COVID-19 infection in the area. Today, the Government of Ontario granted her request as seven different health authorities moved up the ladder of protection, including two that are going into lockdown.
“As we enter the holiday season and as the province prepares to receive its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines, it remains crucial for all Ontarians to continue adhering to public health advice and workplace safety measures to reduce the spread of the virus and keep each other safe,” said Minister of Health Christine Elliott in a statement.
Middlesex-London and Simcoe Muskoka District will be joining Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health at Red-Control, the last level before Grey-Lockdown. Our neighbours in Halton and Waterloo Region will remain at Red, while Windsor-Essex County and York Region will be joining Toronto and Peel Region at Grey.
The new public health measures will go into effect on Monday at 12:01 am.
“Every person in Guelph needs to know COVID-19 is spreading very quickly in our community. The rate at which cases continue to grow—especially in the last few days—requires immediate action,” said Mercer in a statement. “Public Health will use the tools available to us but I’m asking every one of us to make the choice starting right now to help stop the spread of the virus, to keep us safe, to keep our friends and family safe.”
As previously reported, the City of Guelph has been preparing for weeks for the move to Red-Control. City-run pools, rinks, and gyms will be closed; all team sports, practices and training in City facilities will be pause; and, all drop-in and registered fitness classes and programs will cease for the foreseeable future.
As consequence, 125 part-time and casual City of Guelph employees will be put on emergency leave. “It’s disappointing, especially so close the holidays and we hope to get our people back to work in January,” said DCAO of Public Services Colleen Clack-Bush.
Service counters at City rec facilities will remain open, and so will the Guelph Civic Museum and the Guelph Public Library. City Hall, the Provincial Offences Court, and the Farmers Market will also be unaffected. Guelph parks, playgrounds and trails will remain open and accessible, and area outdoor rinks will be open, weather permitting, starting with the Market Square rink on Monday.
“We’re not in lockdown yet, and I know Guelph can stay out of lockdown if we all follow the guidelines,” said Mayor Cam Guthrie in a statement. “Health officials keep telling us the virus is spreading through social gatherings in people’s homes. Increasing spread in our community means there’s more risk of someone carrying it into a recreation centre, shopping mall, school or workplace. To prevent more people from getting sick, and to keep businesses open, we have to stop having visitors in our homes.
“We can do this Guelph! Let’s get us back to not only orange, but all the way back to green as soon as we can,” Guthrie added.
As we go into the red, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health added 43 new cases on Friday, which increased the number of active cases right now to 251. Most of those are in Guelph, which now has 140 active cases compared to 30 in Wellington County, 32 in Dufferin Country, and 49 that are unassigned.
The test positivity rate has moved up slightly to 3.3 per cent in the last couple of days, while the 7-Day moving average of confirmed cases has shot up from 68.3 cases per 100,000 on Wednesday to 84.2 on Friday.