Southwestern Public Health moves from red to orange zone

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Oxford and Elgin counties moved into the Orange Zone of Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework on March 1.

“Following a very difficult December and January with high case loads and many associated deaths, cases have decreased in all settings,” said medical officer of health Dr. Joyce Lock.

“Most of our cases can be traced to a specific source, meaning there is less community transmission. We are down to (one) active outbreak in our institutions. However, we know that there are variants of concern circulating across the province and we must exercise caution to ensure they do not get a foothold here.”

Southwestern Public Health unit reported three new COVID-19 cases Monday, with 85 ongoing cases in the Oxford-Elgin region, nearly double what it was Friday (43), including two cases in Tillsonburg.

COVID-19 cases in Aylmer surged over the weekend to 60 and the Ontario Police College suspended classes for two weeks amid an COVID-19 outbreak at its Aylmer-area campus.

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The tally of confirmed cases at the police college rose to 27 Friday, up from 18 two days earlier, a spokesperson for the Ministry of the Solicitor General said.

“In consultation with the local public health unit and to help prevent the potential for further spread, in-person instruction at the college will be paused for 14 days, and recruits that test positive will remain at the college to self-isolate,” Brent Ross said by email.

Lock stressed the importance of continuing COVID-19 safety measures, even though the region has moved into a less restrictive colour zone.

“What I want everyone to consider is how, in the context of the Orange-Zone, you can stay safe,” she said. “There will be a temptation to socialize more, to open our homes to friends and family, to gather in groups. I urge everyone to continue limiting close contact, to keep your distance, to mask up, and to socialize outdoors when the weather supports that opportunity. We don’t want a backward slide. We want to keep people safe and healthy until the vaccine is more widely available.”

ORANGE ZONE HIGHLIGHTS

Always stay home if you have symptoms… physically distance by staying two metres apart from people you do not live with… wear a mask or face covering in indoor public spaces… and avoid non-essential travel.

Events and social gatherings in private homes, backyards, or parks are limited to 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors.

Organized public events and gatherings in staffed businesses and facilities are limited to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.

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Religious, wedding, and funeral services may operate at 30 per cent capacity indoors. Outdoor services may not have more than 100 people.

Restaurants, bars, and other food and drink establishments have a capacity limit of 50 people indoors and a maximum of four people per table.

Sports and recreational fitness facilities have indoor capacity limits of 10 people per class or 50 people in areas with weights and exercise machines. Non-contact team games can be played with 50 people per league in the facilities.

Personal care services that require a guest to remove their mask or face covering are not permitted.

A full list of Orange requirements is on the Ontario.ca website.

– with files from Postmedia.

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