The province has moved Southwestern Public Health into the orange tier of its Keeping
Ontario Safe and Open Framework for COVID-19.
Based on its case count as of Nov. 20, and incidence rate of 28.4 cases per 100,000 population, Oxford and Elgin counties were moved to the orange tier on Nov. 23.
The decision was based on an increase of cases, more evidence of community transmission, more tests coming back as positive, and an increase in outbreaks. It is expected this stage will remain in effect for at least 28 days, unless local risks increase and further restrictions are required.
As of Monday the health unit reported 62 active COVID-19 cases in Oxford-Elgin, including three in Tillsonburg. The highest number of cases were reported in Woodstock (22), Norwich (12) and Aylmer (10).
Currently, three cases are hospitalized (non-ICU).
A total of 274 people were tested for COVI-19 last week at the Tillsonburg Assessment Centre at 17 Bear Street.
“Our local cases continue to rise, which puts our community at-risk,” said Dr. Joyce Lock, the medical
officer of Health at Southwestern Public Health in a media release. “We need to modify our behaviours immediately to keep our community healthy and thriving for the long-term.
“Our goal is to reduce the incidence of COVID-19 so we can move back down to the Yellow-Protect tier, and eventually regain the control of this virus that we experienced in Green-Prevent.”
On Nov. 6, Ontario introduced a new framework to categorize public health regions in five levels: Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Lockdown (as an urgent measure). On Nov. 13, Southwestern Public Health and seven other health units had been moved into the Yellow-Protect tier based on local data.
The Orange-Protect tier has the same restrictions in place as the Yellow-Protect tier, with additional new
restrictions for select businesses, including:
- Bars, restaurants, food premises, meeting and event spaces. (eg. Limit of four people seated together rather than six at a table).
- Sports and recreational fitness activities.
- Retail (eg. Screening of patrons is required.)
- Personal care services.
- Cinemas, performing arts facilities, casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments.
“The business community has been hit hard by COVID-19,” said Lock. “Please consider how your actions can help keep businesses open while still avoiding the significant illness in our more vulnerable residents that is associated with this virus.”
Ontario evaluates each health unit’s data weekly. The Province works with health units to move them in and out of the restriction tiers to lessen the risk of transmission in each region.
See the website Ontario.ca for a full list of all Orange-Restrict restrictions.