More people can attend funerals and weddings, but restrictions will still limit gatherings
14 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Hamilton over the weekend
When Les Clark heard the province was loosening restrictions on the number of people who can attend weddings and funerals he broke out the measuring tape and headed down to the chapel.
"I went down and measured our rooms and came up with 30 per cent of our square footage and came up with some figures we'll be able to stick to and still be in compliance with the regulations," explained the manager of M.A Clark & Sons Funeral Home.
The pandemic has been hard for those who help people mark the end of their loved one's lives, or celebrate the beginning of couples lives together. For months the number of people who could attend a funeral or wedding service was limited to 10 to curb the spread of COVID-19.
But as of Friday, 50 people can now attend outdoor ceremonies, while indoor venues can be filled to 30 per cent of their capacity.
"With recent progress to reduce the spread of COVID-19, we are able to ease restrictions on these special ceremonies," said Minister of Health Christine Elliott in a media release. "As we loosen these measures, I strongly urge everyone to remain careful and cautious as we are all still at risk."
Those in attendance still have to follow safety protocols including physical distancing and receptions and receptions will stay at the 10-person limit for the time being.
It's a move toward getting back to normal, but Clark said 30 per cent is still pretty limiting and he's not exactly anticipating a sudden influx of customers.
"I think having a service at the cemetery is probably going to be more of a popular choice especially now that the weather is a little better," he said.
Wedding planner Krista Olynyk isn't expecting rush either.
All of her clients who were set to get married this year have postponed to 2021 and she doesn't expect they'll try to re-book now.
Couples may look to get legally married and then host a celebration at some point, the owner of KJ and Co. explained, but even with an increased number of people able to attend, there are still too many unknowns about whether or not guests will be able to eat, dance and hug each other.
"For a lot of my couples their first reaction is that they couldn't imagine their wedding day without everybody together," said Olynyk.
"Everyone got really excited there for a second and then we realized we still have some significant limitations."
Hamilton allowed to enter Stage 2
On Monday the province announced Hamilton would be able to enter Stage 2 of its reopening plan as of Friday.
Fourteen new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Hamilton over the weekend.
A total of 769 people (762 confirmed, seven probable) had been infected with virus as of 9 a.m. Monday, compared to the 755 tallied Friday.
Forty-two people have died, while 626 ( 81 per cent) of cases are resolved.
Here's a look at the COVID-19 situation around the area Monday.
There are eight active cases of COVID-19 in Brant County, none of which are hospitalized.
A total of 118 people have tested positive for the virus, but 106 of those are resolved. Four people have died.
Burlington has seen a total of 156 cases (139 confirmed, 17 probable) of the virus during the pandemic.
Twenty-seven cases in the city are active, while 123 are resolved. Six people have died.
The entire Halton Region, meanwhile, tallied 787 cases in total Monday — five more than the day before.
The Niagara Region reported one new cases of COVID-19 Monday, for a total of 726.
Just 32 of those cases are active, while 633 are resolved. Statistics show 61 people have died of the virus so far.
There is one ongoing institutional outbreak at Garden City Manor in St. Catharines.
A total of 414 people have tested positive in Haldimand and Norfolk counties, while 3,063 have tested negative.
Of the positive cases, 149 are resolved. Thirty-one people have died.