The province tightened the thresholds for each restriction level on Friday after the government’s model was criticised as too lenient. The maximum weekly incidence rate in the yellow “protect” zone, in which the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) had previously been placed, was lowered from 39.9 cases per 100,000 to 24.9 per 100,000.
That change pushed the region from the yellow zone to orange, based on numbers from earlier in the week. The region will enter the new category from 12:01 a.m. on Monday, November 16, and would introduce the same restrictions as those imposed in neighbouring Ottawa. Last calls at bars and restaurants will change from 11 p.m. to 9 p.m., only four people will be permitted at a table instead of six, and theatres, arenas, and fitness centres will be limited to 50 people per complex. Personal care services that required the removal of masks would not be permitted.
EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis had recommended that the region remain in the yellow zone, given the region’s situation had improved since the publishing of data the government had relied on for the decision. He expressed frustration at the choice to impose greater restrictions, but said he understood the government’s caution.
“Our real numbers tell us we’re on a downward trend, and we’re yellow,” he said. “I was a bit frustrated, I’ll be honest… but I guess I see their rationale, they want to see the trends going downwards, and I would have been even more upset if we had to close things down.”
If the region’s downward trend continued, Dr. Roumeliotis said the area could return to the yellow zone within the next week. A full list of the restrictions in the orange “restrict” zone can be found at the government’s COVID website.
Meanwhile, a Russell retirement home reported the start of an outbreak on Thursday. Two residents at the Russell Meadows Retirement Home tested positive for COVID-19. Test results from other residents and staff were pending.
No new cases were reported at the Prescott and Russell Residence in Hawkesbury, where 74 of the 97 cases in residents and 57 of the 62 cases in staff had been resolved. The death toll from COVID at the long term care home stood at 12, as well as another seven deaths unrelated to the virus.
Across the region, 143 COVID cases were active on Friday, a drop of 26 since Thursday. Of those active cases, 66 were in Prescott-Russell communities, including:
20 in Hawkesbury;
16 in Clarence-Rockland;
8 in Champlain;
7 in Alfred & Plantagenet;
7 in Russell;
5 in The Nation;
3 in Casselman, and;
0 in East Hawkesbury.
Another EOHU media briefing was expected on Monday.