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BEYOND LOCAL: Province confirms York Region is moving to modified stage 2

The region shares a border with Simcoe County. As part of Stage 2 restrictions starting Monday, indoor dining will be suspended, and gyms, cinemas and casinos will be closed for 28 days       
Doug Ford
File photo/Chris Young/The Canadian Press

"I hate doing this," said Premier Doug Ford following his announcement this afternoon that York Region is returning to a modified stage 2, which will suspend indoor dining and close down gyms, cinemas and casinos for 28 days at the end of this weekend.                                                                                            

York Region will join Toronto, Peel and Ottawa, the other COVID-19 hotspots in the province with rising case numbers, hospitalizations and outbreaks.

The increase in community transmission cases was also a factor in the decision, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott said in today's news briefing.

The announcement comes as no surprise to York Region medical officer of health Dr. Karim Kurji, who said yesterday that with the most recent escalation in COVID-19 cases in York Region — it saw the highest daily number of cases since the pandemic began with 128 cases confirmed Oct. 14 — the region had moved from “orange zone” to “red zone."

Most local restaurant owners were also anticipating the move, according to Grant Buckley of Ground Burger, who said it was inevitable.

This morning, workers were busy at Joia on Main installing side awnings on its patio that will help make outdoor dining more comfortable as temperatures drop.

While new cases dropped to 66 on Oct. 15, York Region has seen 549 cases in the last seven days. As well, testing positivity has jumped close to 3 per cent, the median Rt value has been above 1.00 for more than a month, hospitalizations have increased to 37, deaths are slowing inching upwards, as are outbreaks in workplaces and at long-term and community care settings. 

"From Oct. 3 to Oct. 9, 2020 York Region's case rate increased by 49 per cent to 38.7 per 100,000 people, above the provincial average," according to the province. "The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the region have doubled over the past week. In addition, the rate of infection is increasing; the positivity rate is 2.77 per cent, well above the high-alert threshold of 2.5 per cent."

Ontario's chief medical officer of health, Dr. David William, is urging all Ontarians to limit trips outside of home, except for essential purposes such as work where it is not possible to work from home, school, grocery shopping, medical appointments, and outdoor physical activity.

Here's the list of the modified stage 2 measures that will take effect Monday, Oct. 19, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.:

Gathering limits

  • Reducing limits for all social gatherings and organized public events to a maximum of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors where physical distancing can be maintained. The two limits may not be combined for an indoor-outdoor event

What’s closing

  • Indoor food and drink service in restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, including nightclubs and food court areas in malls;
  • Closing of:
    • Indoor gyms and fitness centres (i.e., exercise classes and weight and exercise rooms);
    • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments;
    • Indoor cinemas;
    • Performing arts centres and venues;
    • Spectator areas in racing venues;
    • Interactive exhibits or exhibits with a high risk of personal contact in museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, etc.

Personal care services

  • Prohibiting personal care services where face coverings must be removed for the service (e.g. makeup application, beard trimming);

Capacity reductions

  • Reducing the capacity limits for:
    • Tour and guide services to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors
    • Real estate open houses to 10 people indoors, where physical distancing can be maintained.
    • In-person teaching and instruction (e.g. cooking class) to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, with exemptions for schools, child care centres, universities, colleges of applied arts and technology, private career colleges, the Ontario Police College, etc.
    • Meeting and event spaces to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors;
    • Limiting team sports to training sessions (no games or scrimmages).

What will stay open

Schools, child care centres and places of worship will remain open and must continue to follow the public health measures in place. Before-school and after-school programs will also be exempt from these new restrictions.

Retailers will also remain open. Restaurants will remain open for outdoor dining and takeout, as will outdoor gyms and fitness centres.

Weddings

  • Updated public health measures will apply to wedding receptions, including gathering limits of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors at event spaces.

Sports

  • Limiting team sports to training sessions (no games or scrimmages).



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