WDGPH region will return to red COVID-19 alert level on Feb. 16

WELLINGTON COUNTY – The Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) region will return next week to the red level of the province’s COVID-19 alert system.

The province announced on Feb. 8 that 27 health units will return to the pre-lockdown framework on Feb. 16.

On Feb. 12 the province announced the WDGPH region will be one of 11 regions returning to the red (“control”) level for at least two weeks.

The region was previously placed in the red level on Dec. 14 and remained there until the government introduced a province-wide lockdown on Dec. 26.

“The health and safety of Ontarians remains our number one priority,” stated health minister Christine Elliott.

“While we are cautiously and gradually transitioning some regions out of shutdown, with the risk of new variants this is not a reopening or a return to normal.”

She added, “Until vaccines are widely available, It remains critical that all individuals and families continue to adhere to public health measures and stay home as much as possible to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities.”

The Toronto, Peel and York regions, as well as the North Bay Parry Sound district, will remain in lockdown and under the stay-at-home order until at least Feb. 22.

Red level restrictions

There heave been a few changes to the red (control) alert level since the colour-coded framework was first introduced by the province on Nov. 3.

The red level, the last step before grey (“lockdown”), includes what the province calls “stringent” restrictions over and above those in place under the orange level.

For example, public events and social gatherings are limited to five indoors and 25 outdoors.

Religious services/ceremonies are permitted where physical distancing can be maintained, but they must not exceed 30% capacity indoors and are limited to 100 people outdoors.

Restaurants and bars can seat a maximum of 10 people indoors, with a limit of four per table. They must close by 10pm and stop serving alcohol by 9pm, and dancing, singing and loud/live music is prohibited. Outdoor dining, take out, drive through, and delivery is still permitted, including alcohol.

Retail establishments can open with capacity limits of 75% for grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies, and 50% for all other retail, including discount and big box retailers, liquor stores, hardware stores and garden centres.

Gyms and fitness studios must have three metres between users and capacity is restricted to 10 in areas with weights or exercise equipment, while organized sports have to cancel games and limit activity to practices/training.

Spas and personal care services can open but services requiring the removal of face coverings are prohibited.

Casinos must limit capacity to 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors.

Theatres and cinemas must remain closed, except for drive-in theatres and a few exceptions for rehearsing or performing a recorded/broadcasted event.

A full list of red-level restrictions is available on the Ontario government’s website.

“While the trends in public health indicators are heading in the right direction, we still have work to do,” stated Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

“Everyone is strongly advised to continue staying at home, avoid social gatherings, only travel between regions for essential purposes, and limit close contacts to your household or those you live with.”