Ontario tightens restrictions, moving Simcoe Muskoka into the Red zone
BARRIE, ONT. -- Ontario is tightening restrictions across Simcoe Muskoka amid surging COVID-19 cases across Simcoe County in recent weeks.
The region moves to the Red-Control zone under the province's colour-coded COVID-19 safety framework.
The news comes as the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit reports its highest number of weekly cases Friday.
There were 339 COVID-19 cases for the week starting Dec. 6.
The health unit listed 37 new infections to end the week, with 15 people in the hospital with the virus. The region currently has 361 active cases.
The Red zone brings with it stringent measures to control the transmission of the virus.
The restrictions remain in place for at least 28 days. The government then reassesses the impact of public health measures to determine if the region remains in the red or moves into a new zone.
Several safety measures come into play for the region, including:
- Social gatherings limited to five people indoors, 25 outdoors
- Restaurant capacity restricted to 10 patrons seated indoors
- Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Night clubs and strip clubs only permitted to operate as restaurant or bar
- Fitness facilities can have up to 10 people in areas with weights and exercise machines
- Team sports must not be practiced or played except for training
- Movie cinemas must close
For a complete list of the red zone restrictions, click here.
Publicly-funded schools will remain open.
While municipalities across Muskoka had lobbied to be removed from the health unit's geographical border, as cases in the area remain exceptionally low, the province did impose the new restrictions on both Muskoka and Simcoe County. Of the 37 new cases reported Friday, none were in Muskoka.
The new restrictions take effect Monday at 12:01 a.m.
Meanwhile, York Region was placed in a complete lockdown in the Grey zone. "Moving a region into Grey-Lockdown is not an easy decision, but it is one we needed to make in order to help stop the spread of the virus and safeguard the key services we rely on," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.
Elliott said it "remains crucial" that all residents continue to follow public health advice to reduce the spread of COVID-19, particularly as the holidays approach.
The province reported 1,848 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and 45 new deaths due to the virus.
With files from The Canadian Press