For the first time since the second week of December, the areas represented by Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health will be entering the Orange-Restrict level. Eight health units are on the move after this week’s announcement about the changes in COVID-19 restrictions from Queen’s Park, and Guelph’s good news comes with some slight adjustments to our own local COVID protection protocols.
The news late Friday was good for Guelph and area, but not so good for others. Brant, Chatham-Kent, and Leeds, Grenville and Lanark will be going red on Monday at 12:01 am, while North Bay Perry Sound, Porcupine, Timiskaming, and Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington are moving to yellow.
“With the significant and increasing risk of COVID-19 variants, the next few weeks will be critical in our fight against COVID-19,” said Minister of Health Christine Elliott in a statement. “Thanks to the tireless efforts of our frontline health care workers we continue to accelerate our vaccine rollout, but until all Ontarians can receive the vaccine we must not let our guard down and continue following public health advice. This remains our best defense.”
Following up on the announcement, the City of Guelph released updated guidelines for what the orange level will entail for Royal City residents.
As outlined on the City’s website, there are going to be a number of changes to using rec centres, ice rinks, and pools. On Monday, people can be in Guelph rec centres for up to 90 minutes at a time (excluding time spent playing sport), there can be 24 people on the ice at a given time, and 50 people can train in areas with weights and equipment at any one time. Lockers, showers, saunas and the public viewing gallery at pools remain closed, and only one parent at a time will be allowed to accompany their child.
People will also still be required to fill out a COVID-19 Screening Form whenever they visit a City rec facility for any length of time and for whatever reason.
The Guelph Civic Museum will be allowing up to 30 visitors at a time (just in time for the new CFRU exhibit), while the Guelph Farmers Market will keep their indoor shopping limit to 75. Meanwhile, it’s back to regular business hours at all branches of the Guelph Public Library, including the Scottsdale branch, which was closed under level red.
Both the Sleeman Centre and the River Run Centre will remain closed for the time being.
Want to get together with others? Private indoor gatherings are capped at 10 people while outdoor gatherings will have a 25-person limit. Staffing at businesses and facilities will be allow 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors, while weddings, funerals and religious observances will be allowed up to 30 per cent capacity indoors, and 100 people outdoors.
For restaurants, alcohol sales have to end at 9 pm, and all establishments have to close by 10 pm. Depending on the space they can offer for physical distancing, restaurants and bars will be able to open up their establishment to 50 per cent capacity for indoor dining not exceeding 100 patrons.
“Some good news! Thanks to everyone doing their part to help Guelph get through this. I know these restrictions are hard on us, our kids, our families and our businesses, but they are working; Guelph is slowing the spread of COVID-19,” said Mayor Cam Guthrie in a statement. “We still have some hard work ahead of us to prevent future lockdowns and get our community vaccinated by this fall.
“Let’s be kind. Let’s help each other. Follow the rules so that we can stay open and stay safe,” Guthrie added.
By the numbers, WDG Public Health ended the week with 114 active cases after 21 new cases were declared on Friday, which officially set the total number of COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic at 5,000 for our region. The 7-day moving rate of confirmed cases is 32.7 per 100,000, which is solidly orange after flirting with yellow numbers earlier this week. The test positivity rate is also orange at 1.4 per cent.
Public Health also announced one new fatality to bring that number up to 106 people who have died from COVID-19 in Wellington, Dufferin, and Guelph.
In vaccine news, just over 10 per cent of people in our region have been fully vaccinated while public health has administered a total of 32,816 does of one of the three vaccines being distributed in our area.