Province signals an easing of COVID-19 measures, including limited reopening of non-essential retailers

The new framework allows for limited retail shopping in Grey-Lockdown zones. The biggest news for non-essential retailers is that they will be able to reopen their doors, with a capacity limit of 25 per cent.

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford said today that measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 are working to bend the curve, bringing infection rates down.
While most of the province remains under a stay-at-home order, three regions are moving back to the Green-Prevent level of the Province’s colour-coded response framework, which has been updated.
“Today we are seeing some sunlight break through the clouds. Daily case numbers are down, transmission rates are down, less people are being hospitalized,” he said.
“My friends, the measures are working. Staying home is saving lives. And I want to thank team Ontario, every single person, for doing your part (and) following the public health measures. Together, we are bending the curve, protecting our hospitals and looking out for our most vulnerable.”
The regions impacted are: Hastings Prince Edward Public Health; Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health; and Renfrew County and District Health Unit. The Simcoe/Muskoka district remains under stay-at-home provisions.
Ford continued that other regions will be moved to response designations on Feb. 16, but added “we are not clear of the storm yet” with hospitals in some parts of the province still under immense pressure, new variants of the virus, and delays in vaccine delivery.
“This is a critical time. We can find a way forward but we need a plan that continues to protect the health and safety of each and every person in this province, while ensuring more businesses can safely reopen and getting more people back to work.”
The new framework allows for limited retail shopping in Grey-Lockdown zones. The biggest news for non-essential retailers is that they will be able to reopen their doors, with a capacity limit of 25 per cent.
The stay-at-home order remains in place for the rest of the province until Feb. 16.
“We are maintaining shutdown measures in the majority of the public health regions in Ontario for a short time, but we will look to gradually and safely transition all regions to a revised and stronger COVID-19 response framework.”
COVID-19 numbers continue to drop across the country; nationally, 24,408 cases were reported over the past seven days, a decrease of 22 per cent from the previous week. There have been 804,253 cases, resulting in 20,767 deaths. It is also being reported that around 86 per cent of the 1,248,115 vaccine doses distributed to the provinces have been administered.
Ontario saw 1,265 new cases reported today (Monday) and 33 more deaths. That’s down from Sunday’s 1,489 cases, and Saturday’s 1,388. The latest data shows 279,472 total cases province-wide, with 258,603 recovered, and 6,531 deaths. There are 901 people in hospitals, of which 335 are in an intensive care unit (ICU) bed, and 226 on a ventilator.
In the Simcoe/Muskoka region, the health unit is reporting that nearly 22,000 doses of vaccine have been administered, mostly to healthcare workers in local hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes. This includes over 5,700 individuals that have received both of the required doses of the vaccine. In addition, 2,867 (89 per cent) long-term care residents, and 2,375 (65 per cent) retirement home residents have received their first dose.
For the current week, 24 new cases have been reported; last week, 274 new cases were reported, about 10 per cent lower than the 305 cases reported for the week of Jan. 24. There are now 5,646 total cases, with 4,520 recovered and 167 deaths.
New variants of the virus are also in the region. To date, 128 local cases have been tested positive for the COVID-19 variant of concern UK B.1.1.7 and an additional 59 cases have screened positive (awaiting confirmatory testing).
The health unit reports that Most COVID-19 cases in Simcoe Muskoka are from the Barrie and South Simcoe areas. Click here to view the epidemic curve by municipality.
The unit’s reporting shows the rate of transmission (Rt) is declining. During January, the seven-day moving average jumped to more than 60 cases a day by the middle of the month, but has been declining since then.
“The effective reproductive number for a given period time or Rt is the average number of secondary cases that a new case will infect. If Rt is greater than one it indicates that the spread of COVID-19 in Simcoe Muskoka is growing, and if Rt is less than one, the spread of COVID-19 is slowing and containment/mitigation efforts may be working to keep the outbreak under control,” reports the unit.