'Stay close to home': Health unit urging residents to only go out for essential activities
BARRIE -- "The message is simple, stay close to home," says Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Associate Medical Officer Dr. Colin Lee urging residents to only leave home for essential activities to protect everyone.
The warning comes for Simcoe Muskoka residents who may be worried tens of thousands of holiday shoppers could be visiting the region from red and grey lockdown areas in the GTA, Peel and Toronto.
"We've been doing a very good job here; everyone's trying their best down there, but they just have a higher chance of being infected, so we do want to do all we can to protect our residents," says Lee.
On Friday, parking lots from Barrie to Alliston and Cookstown full of cars and shoppers from out of town.
"And that's kind of a little concerning for me and my family," says Barrie resident Virgillio Fiore.
Some admitting to Fiore they have no other choice but to visit the region with malls in Mississauga, Brampton and Toronto closed.
"I do feel sorry for them," she says. "They have nowhere else to shop. I understand, but you've got to be very careful."
Meanwhile, Bar Burrito owner Abbasi Kothari feels it's about time he takes precautions to the next step.
Kothari decided to pause indoor dining at his Alliston restaurant, saying with so many customers visiting from nearby Peel region, its better safe than sorry.
"There's an outlet mall, there is a lot of shopping avenues open here which are not in Toronto," says Kothari. "We're a community of a lot of 60 plus people."
There are currently two seniors homes and four local schools in outbreak across Simcoe Muskoka.
Three schools in Barrie, including St. Joan of Arc High School with at least eight cases and one school in Angus.
Nottawasaga Pines currently has two cases, and one classroom closed. The school has been in outbreak since mid-November resulting in nine cases, according to the health unit.
Simcoe Muskoka remains at the orange level, with local case counts appearing to have levelled off this week.