Kitchener-Waterloo

Waterloo region, Guelph and area now in orange level of Ontario's COVID-19 framework

As of Monday, Waterloo region, Guelph, Wellington and Dufferin counties are in the orange, or restrict, level of the province's COVID-19 framework.

Rising cases in the communities led to decision announced Friday

On Monday, Nov. 16, 2020 Waterloo region and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph health units were moved to orange status on the provincial government's COVID-19 scale. The Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area (GTHA) is a red zone. (CBC)

As of Monday morning, Waterloo region, Guelph and Wellington and Dufferin counties are in the orange, or restrict, level of the province's COVID-19 framework.

It will mean changes to how some local businesses operate. On Friday, associate medical officer of health Dr. Julie Emili and regional Chair Karen Redman said they had asked the province to move the region into the orange category from yellow. That's because there's been an acceleration of new cases of COVID-19 in recent weeks in the region.

"The goal of moving to orange is to be preventative in nature, to delay even further restrictions. These are challenging and rapidly changing times in our community but we can do this together," Emili said.

"We appreciate that these changes are significant, these restrictions are necessary to protect vulnerable settings, for schools and businesses to remain open and to enable medical procedures and surgeries to continue as much as possible."

Waterloo region is now in the orange or restrict level of the province's COVID-19 framework, meaning changes to how some businesses operate. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Dr. Nicola Mercer, the CEO and medical officer of health for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph also says she supports the move to orange. Case numbers, she said, are "trending in the wrong direction."

"I am deeply concerned by the risk to our community if these numbers don't change quickly," Mercer said in a statement. "I implore people to limit their close contacts to only those in their household and refrain from hosting or attending any private social gathering."

Under the orange level, social gatherings must be kept to 10 people indoors or 25 people outside. Organized public events are also restricted to 50 people indoors and 100 people outside.

Places of worship can only be 30 per cent full while outdoor events including religious services, weddings or funerals must be capped at 100 people.

People are asked to avoid non-essential travel that would take them from areas of higher transmission to areas of lower transmission or vice-versa. 

Last call at 9 p.m.

Restaurants must close by 10 p.m. and last call is at 9 p.m. No more than four people can be seated at the same table and those going out to eat will be asked screening questions before they sit down.

Other businesses may need to restrict the number of customers in their stores.

Many businesses, including movie theatres, performing arts facilities and even sports teams will be asking people entering or taking part in an event to leave their contact information for proper contact tracing should that become necessary.

Strip clubs must be closed and night clubs can only operate as restaurants or bars, under the orange level. Karoke is still permitted, but private-room bookings aren't allowed. 

Some aspects of personal care services, including steam rooms, saunas, whirlpools and sensory-deprivation pods, are closed and services that require the removal of a face mask aren't premitted. 

In retail settings, people can't use fitting rooms that are next to each other and music played in the store can't be louder than "the volume of a normal conversation," the province's website says.

At malls, people entering will be asked screening questions. 

Casinos cannot exceed 50 people and table games are prohibited. Movie theatres also must limit the number of people in the facility to 50 and face coverings are required for people watching a movie unless they are eating or drinking.

Changes to sports and fitness

Under the orange level, there can only be 50 people in a recreational fitness space or program, not including pools or hockey rinks.

Spectators are not permitted unless they are the parent or guardian supervising their own child.

Team sports must be modified to avoid physical contact and the contact information of everyone taking part must be recorded.

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