Kitchener-Waterloo

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph to move into COVID-19 'red' zone on Monday

Guelph, Wellington County and Dufferin County will move into the "red" zone of the province's COVID-19 framework on Monday.

Public health has seen ‘dramatic increase in cases’ in Guelph

A man pulls open a door that has a sign indicating masks are mandatory in Guelph. The communities covered by Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health will move into the 'red zone' of the province's COVID-19 framework as of Monday. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

The communities covered by Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health will move into the "red zone" of the province's COVID-19 framework as of 12:01 a.m. Monday.

Provincial Minister of Health Christine Elliott made the announcement Friday afternoon.

Local medical officer of health Dr. Nicola Mercer said earlier in the week that she was advocating to the province to move the area into the "red" zone because of increasing case numbers, particularly in Guelph.

"For a number of weeks now, I've been holding us at orange, even though some of our numbers and actually a number of our numbers were red," Mercer said in an interview on CBC Kitchener-Waterloo's The Morning Edition.

"But the real reason that I decided that I had to finally make that recommendation is we have a large number of people entering hospital, like week over week numbers jumped dramatically like 10 to 12 times the numbers in about a matter of five days," she said.

'Dramatic increase in cases'

There were 43 new cases reported in the entire area covered by public health on Friday. Mercer says there's been a "dramatic increase in cases" in Guelph specifically.

Public health notes on its website that the new case numbers reported for the entire region are the most up to date as it takes a few days to confirm where people live. Still, on Friday, Guelph had 31 new cases and had 33 new cases on Thursday.

Dufferin County had eight new cases on Friday and Wellington County had 10.

A beef processing facility in Guelph, owned by Cargill, has seen 21 employees test positive for the virus and an additional 80 employees were identified as close contacts and sent home to be tested.

Public health does not list all outbreaks on its website like other areas, such as Waterloo region. A spokesperson says public health lists outbreaks that are mandated, such as long-term care homes or schools, or where there's been an identified risk to the public.

Guelph implements further restrictions

The provincial changes mandated by going into the "red" zone means people will need to gather in smaller groups. Indoor gatherings are limited to five people while outdoor gatherings are limited to 25.

Stores, restaurants and bars face more restrictions in the number of patrons and when alcohol can be served.

The City of Guelph has also indicated it will go a step further, closing arenas, pools and indoor skating rinks. The city said that's because operating pools and rinks for 10 people at a time is not practical or affordable.

Outdoor rinks, trails, parks and washrooms will remain open. Libraries and museums would also remain open.

As well, the Guelph Farmers' Market, which was closed in the spring during the first wave of the pandemic, would remain open under red, but will limit shopping to 75 people.

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