Eastern Ontario Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said the region will move into the red zone next week.
Eastern Ontario Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said the region will move into the red zone next week.

EOHU to enter red zone on Monday

Stephen Jeffery
EAP
The region’s medical officer of health says the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) will enter the red zone of Ontario’s colour-coded COVID-19 system from next week.

Dr. Paul Roumeliotis told media on Thursday afternoon that the seven-day rolling average, reproduction and positivity rates had taken the region out of the orange zone and into the red. As of Thursday, 296 cases were active across the region, almost double the 152 active cases a week ago.

Of the 296 cases, 137 were variants of concern. One was the South African variant, while the remainder were the mutation first reported in Britain. The variants showed up in 52 percent of new positive cases in the region. 

Twenty-nine new cases were reported in the EOHU on Thursday, of which 16 came from Prescott-Russell. Dr. Roumeliotis said many of the Prescott-Russell cases came from clusters or outbreaks, but the number of new cases in recent days had left staff struggling to contact trace residents. 

“At this point, we’re managing, but barely,” he said. “We want to make sure that people know we will be calling and following up. In the meantime, if you’re told you’re positive or you’re told you’re a high-risk contact, please remain home.” 

The Ontario government officially announced the decision on Friday. Unlike Ottawa, which entered the red zone within 24 hours of the announcement, Dr. Roumeliotis said the weekend would provide time for businesses to prepare for added restrictions.

Outbreaks 

Two outbreaks were reported at the Hawkesbury and District General Hospital, with 16 patients and five staff members testing positive. Five people have died at the hospital of COVID-19. Across the EOHU, 30 people were hospitalized, of whom six were in intensive care. 

No outbreaks were reported at Prescott-Russell schools, but two student cases were reported at Mother Teresa Elementary School in Russell, and one student case was reported at École élémentaire catholique de Casselman - Pavilion St-Paul/Ste-Euphémie.  

The region 

Of the 296 cases in the EOHU on Thursday, 90 were in Prescott-Russell communities, including: 

  • 22 in Russell; 

  • 21 in Hawkesbury; 

  • 17 in Clarence-Rockland; 

  • 9 in Casselman; 

  • 7 in Alfred-Plantagenet; 

  • 6 in Champlain; 

  • 5 in East Hawkesbury, and; 

  • 3 in The Nation.

Red zone restrictions

Under the red 'control' zone, residents were asked not to visit any other household or allow visitors in their home. If you live alone, you can have close contact with only one other household.

All events and social gatherings:

  • Indoors: 5 people
  • Outside: 25 people

Religious, wedding and funeral services:

  • Indoors: 30% capacity
  • Outdoors: 100 people

All open businesses must:

  • screen employees and customers
  • post signs at all entrances informing people how to screen themselves before entry
  • limit capacity so guests can stay at least 2 metres apart
  • make sure anyone indoors wears a mask or face covering, including workers who have to come within 2 metres of anyone else
  • make sure workers use personal protective equipment (PPE) that protects their eyes, nose and mouth when they must come within 2 metres of anyone 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 line ups to make sure customers are at least two metres apart wearing face coverings or masks
  • create a safety plan

Restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments have capacity limits:

  • Indoors: the lesser of approximately 50 percent of indoor dining area or 50 people
  • Outdoors: limited to allow physical distancing of 2 metres

Guests must:

  • for indoor dining, only be seated with members of their same households, with limited exceptions for caregivers and people who live alone
  • sit with at least 2 metres between tables
  • remain seated at all times (with some exceptions)
  • wear masks or face coverings except when eating or drinking (with some exceptions)
  • wear a mask or face covering and keep 2 metres apart when lining up and gathering inside or outside
  • give their name and contact information
  • answer screening questions about COVID-19covid 19 symptoms and exposure

Buffets, dancing, singing, live music performances and strip clubs are not permitted. Establishments must close by 10 p.m. Alcohol cannot be sold after 9 p.m. No one can drink alcohol after 10 p.m.

Sports and recreational fitness facilities have capacity limits:

  • Indoors: 10 people in classes, 10 people in areas with weights or exercise equipment
  • Outside: 25 people in classes
  • No spectators, except for one parent or guardian per child

Team sports:

  • must not be practiced or played except for training (no games or scrimmage)
  • must keep 2 metres physical distance, no contact permitted

Everyone must:

  • wear a mask or face covering except when exercising (with some exceptions)
  • stay 3 metres apart in classes or areas with weights or exercise equipment and 2 metres apart everywhere else
  • make reservations (only one required per team)
  • give their name and contact information

There is a 90-minute time limit for classes and working out (does not apply for sports).

Meeting and event spaces have limited capacity:

  • Indoors: 10 people total
  • Outside: 25 people total
  • Per table: 4 people
  • Religious, wedding and funeral services have different limits

Booking multiple rooms for the same event is not allowed.

Guests must:

  • give their name and contact information
  • wear masks or face coverings except when eating or drinking (with some exceptions)

Stores have capacity limits: 

  • supermarkets and other stores that primarily sell groceries, convenience stores, pharmacies: 75%
  • all other retail (includes discount and big box retailers, liquor stores, cannabis stores, hardware stores, garden centres): 50%

Curbside pick-up and delivery are permitted, including for cannabis stores. Fitting rooms cannot be right next to each other.

Guests must:

  • wear a mask or face covering (with some exceptions) and keep at least 2 metres apart inside and when lining up and gathering outside
  • answer screening questions about COVID-19 symptoms and exposure before they come into malls

Oxygen bars, steam rooms, saunas, sensory deprivation pods (except for therapeutic purposes), bath houses, and other adult venues are closed.

Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments have capacity limits:

  • Indoors: 10 people total
  • Outside: 25 people total

Table games are not allowed. Guests must:

  • wear masks or face coverings except when eating or drinking (with some exceptions)
  • give their name and contact information

Audiences are not allowed at performing arts facilities. Rehearsing, recording or broadcasting an event or performance is allowed, everyone must stay 2 metres away from each other, except when needed for the performance, and there must be a barrier (for example, plexiglass) between singers and wind- or brass-instrument players and other performers.