Welcome to the Red-Control zone of COVID-19 management … we have been here before

While people will no doubt appreciate their new-found freedoms, health officials are urging caution, reminding residents COVID-19 variants constitute a present and growing concern.


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On Tuesday the Simcoe/Muskoka region moved out of the stay-at-home order, along with the rest of the province, into the Red-Control zone, which continues to carry some pretty restrictive conditions.
While people will no doubt appreciate their new-found freedoms, health officials are urging caution, reminding residents COVID-19 variants constitute a present and growing concern.
To date, 150 local cases have been tested positive for the COVID-19 variant of concern UK B.1.1.7, and an additional 86 cases have screened positive (awaiting confirmatory testing), the health unit reports. As well, 17 new cases are reported since the last update. The unit updates Monday through Friday.
Indicators and thresholds for the Red-Control level are a weekly incidence rate of 40 per 100,000 or more, percent positivity of 2.5 per cent or more, Rt (rate of transmission) of 1.2 or more, repeated outbreaks in multiple sectors and settings, increasing number of large outbreaks, level of community transmission, and non-epi linked cases increasing.
According to the health unit’s most recent report, the daily moving average of new cases has been declining since mid-January. If the Rt rate is above 1, it indicates the virus is spreading; if it’s below one, the spread is slowing and containment/mitigation efforts may be working.
The unit is reporting that as of Feb. 4, the Rt level was 0.61 per cent. However, caution in interpreting the data is advised due to reporting delays. Even if the rate is under one, mitigating factors include outbreaks such as the one at Roberta Place.
More than 25,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Simcoe Muskoka, mainly to healthcare workers in local hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes. This includes more than 9,000 individuals that have received both of the required doses of the vaccine. In addition, 2,931 (or 91 per cent) long-term care residents, and 2,409 (or 66 per cent) retirement home residents have received their first dose.
There were 136 new cases reported to the health unit for the current week, while there were 284 new cases reported to the health unit the previous week. The region now has 5,872 reported cases, and 172 deaths.
We have been here before, so just a quick reminder as to what we can expect:
Supermarkets and other stores that primarily sell groceries, convenience stores, and pharmacies will have a 75 per cent capacity limit; all other retail, including big box stores, will have a 50 per cent capacity.
All events and social gatherings: indoors, five people; outside: 25 people.
Religious, wedding and funeral services: indoors, 30 per cent capacity; outdoors: 100 people.
Only go out for essential reasons, such as: work, school, groceries, pharmacy, healthcare, helping vulnerable people, exercise and physical activity, and work remotely where possible.
Rules for all businesses: all open businesses must: screen employees and customers (use the COVID-19covid 19 Screening Tool for Workplaces); post signs at all entrances informing people how to screen themselves for COVID-19 before entry; limit capacity so guests can stay at least two metres apart; make sure anyone indoors wears a mask or face covering, including workers who have to come within two metres of anyone else (with some exceptions).
Make sure workers use personal protective equipment (PPE) that protects their eyes, nose and mouth when they must come within two metres of anyone who is not wearing a mask or face covering or separated by plexiglass; clean and disinfect often-touched surfaces, such as equipment, washrooms, locker rooms, change rooms and showers frequently; manage lineups to make sure customers are at least two metres apart wearing face coverings or masks
Create a safety plan, post it in a place where workers and patrons will see it and have it available upon request (for example, to inspectors or law enforcement officers).
Restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments: indoors, 10 people total; four people per table; guests must sit with at least 2 metres between tables, wear masks or face coverings except when eating or drinking (with some exceptions), wear a mask or face covering and keep two metres apart when lining up and gathering outside, give their name and contact information.
Not allowed: buffets, dancing, singing, live music performance, strip clubs (can only operate as a restaurant or bar).
Time restrictions: Establishments must close by 10 p.m., alcohol cannot be sold after 9 p.m., no one can drink alcohol after 10 p.m.
Check other restrictions here.

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