New COVID-19 restrictions are coming into effect in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes, as the region shifts from ‘green’ to ‘yellow.’
As of 12:01 am on Monday, December 7, 2020, the province is moving the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit region into the Yellow-Protect level of Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework. The local area was one of two health units in southern Ontario to remain in the Green-Prevent category but has been told by the province that it will now move to the next level. In making the decision, the province reviews a variety of factors, including case counts, outbreaks, percent positivity of tests, and capacity of local hospitals and health units.
“We are seeing more COVID-19 activity in our region, so the move into Yellow is not a surprise,” says Dr. Lynn Noseworthy, Medical Officer of Health, with the HKPR District Health Unit. “The new measures in the Yellow level are not much different than what we currently have in place but will enhance our ability to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.”
Dr. Noseworthy encourages everyone to continue to follow the recommended public health measures, including staying home when ill, wearing a mask when in public, maintaining physical distancing, washing hands thoroughly and frequently, and avoiding non-essential travel, especially to high-risk areas.
“We all need to continue doing our part so we can quickly get back to Green,” says.
The Yellow-Protect level is the second lowest in Ontario’s five-level COVID-19 Framework. As well as Green and Yellow, there are: Orange-Restrict, Red-Control and Grey-Lockdown. These public health measures can be adjusted, tightened, or loosened based on local COVID-19 trends and case counts. The colour code for each area is reviewed weekly by the Ontario Ministry of Health.
With the move into the Yellow-Control level, some of the key changes include:
- Restaurants/bars must close at midnight.
- Alcohol can no longer be sold or served after 11 pm.
- A limit of six people can be seated at one table in restaurants
- Eateries and other select businesses must keep contact information for all patrons who dine in. Currently, restaurants only had to collect contact information for one person in the party.
- Gyms and fitness clubs must increase spacing between patrons to 3 metres (from 2 metres) in areas with weights or exercise equipment, as well as in exercise/fitness classes.
- The volume of music in stores and businesses must be low enough so a normal conversation is possible, and shouting is not required.
- Most businesses must now complete a COVID-19 safety plan and make it available upon request.
The Health Unit will be distributing information about the new requirements under the Yellow-Protect level to local businesses and organizations. Information on the new colour category is also available at www.hkpr.on.ca or by emailing the Health Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Local businesses and organizations have done an excellent job following the public health measures designed to protect our residents,” Dr. Noseworthy says. “It’s important we continue to work together with our business community to ensure a smooth transition to the new restrictions coming into effect under the Yellow level,” she adds.
The local Health Unit will stay in the Yellow level for a minimum of 28 days, during which time the Ontario government will review local COVID-19 data and trends weekly to determine if the region should stay in Yellow or be moved to a higher level.