“We cannot put in-class learning at risk, we can’t risk widespread outbreaks in our long-term care homes, we cannot risk overwhelming our hospitals. To protect our most vulnerable, to protect what matters most, we have to get the community spread under control.” – Premier Doug Ford
As Toronto and Peel region move into lockdown mode starting Monday, the Simcoe/Muskoka region is moving to the Orange-Restrict level from the current Yellow-Protect designation.
Premier Doug Ford announced the new restrictions today (Friday), citing data showing COVID-19 cases continuing to spike.
“My friends, I have been clear on this. The situation is extremely serious and further action is required to avoid the worst-case scenario, where the rate of a community spread is greatest (risk) … to our schools, our long-term care homes, (and) hospitals,” he said Friday when announcing the new measures.
“We cannot put in-class learning at risk, we can’t risk widespread outbreaks in our long-term care homes, we cannot risk overwhelming our hospitals. To protect our most vulnerable, to protect what matters most, we have to get the community spread under control.”
The news comes as Ontario reported 1,418 new cases on Friday. In this region, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit reported 1,837 confirmed cases as of today; the unit updates daily, Monday through Friday. The number includes 39 new cases since the last update, yesterday (Thursday). There have been 52 deaths, while 1,553 have recovered.
Ford said measures already taken have saved lives, “but this virus, it spreads like wildfire, and in certain parts of the province, it is spreading at an alarming rate.
“Last week our modelling showed that if nothing was done, we could face 6,000 new daily cases in the coming weeks, overwhelming our ICUs shortly after that. More deaths, more losses, but we can avoid this if we take further action now.”
Restrictions under the new level for Simcoe/Muskoka include:
• Events and social gatherings (for example, BBQs): 10 people indoors, 25 people outdoors
• Organized public events and gatherings: 50 people indoors, 100 people outdoors
• Religious services, weddings and funerals: 30 per cent capacity indoors, 100 people outdoors
• Masks will be required for indoor workplaces, indoor public spaces, with limited exemptions, and where patrons without face coverings are within two metres of workers, workers must use additional protections such as eye protection
• Workplaces must develop and implement a communication/public education plan (highlighting risk). Physical distancing must be maintained. Non-essential travel from areas of high-transmission to areas of low transmission should be avoided
Restrictions for restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments include:
• 50 person indoor seated capacity limit
• Require patrons to be seated, two-metre minimum between tables
• Dancing, singing and performing music is permitted, with restrictions
• Karaoke permitted, with restrictions (including no private rooms)
• Require patron contact info (one per party)
• No buffet style service
• Night clubs only permitted to operate as restaurant or bar
• Line-ups and patrons congregating outside venues managed by venue; 2 metres distance and face covering required
• Face coverings except when eating or drinking only
• Eye protection where patrons without face coverings are within 2 metres of workers
• Limit operating hours, establishments close at 10 p.m.
• Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
• No consumption of liquor permitted between 10 p.m. to 9 a.m.
• Require contact information for all seated patrons
• Limit of 4 people may be seated together
• Limit volume of music (to be no louder than the volume of a normal conversation)
• Require screening of patrons (for example, questionnaire)
• Closure of strip clubs
• A safety plan must be available upon request
For other restriction under the orange zone, click here.
“My friends, I know these past few months have been extremely difficult. COVID fatigue is setting in on all of us. But I have seen the strength of our people, and it is up to each and every one of us to determine our future, to write the next chapter of our history. And we all have a part to play.”
The premier also encouraged people to shop local and to avoid panic buying.
“I know this is difficult news today. It’s not where we want to be, but my friends I have faith (that) Ontario will weather … this storm together. Please look out for each other, please stick together because at this darkest hour, we see what we are made of, we see that we can endure. And we will endure, we will persevere, and we will get through this.”