London

Active COVID-19 cases drop to 60 in London region as rules for salons, spas loosen

The Middlesex-London Health Unit reported two new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday as the region saw a drop in active cases as more people recovered from the illness. 

The province also says 4 cases at London Catholic schools were students

The Oak Crossing longterm care facility is one of nine seniors' homes in the London region dealing with positive cases on Oct. 27, 2020. (Colin Butler/CBC)

The Middlesex-London Health Unit reported two new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday as health officials revised rules for personal care businesses, including salons and spas.

On Tuesday, there were 60 active cases being monitored in the region, six less than the day before. Among the two latest people to test positive, are a person in their 20s and someone who is over 80.  

While the total caseload in the region shrank, the virus continues to ravage seniors' facilities in the region. On Monday, Chartwell Royalcliffe Retirement Residence in London was the latest home to report infections.

There are currently nine homes with either staff or residents ill with the virus. 

Across the province, the picture is not improving with high case counts in the GTA and Ottawa. 

The seven-day average of new daily cases, a measure that provides a clearer picture of longer-term trends, increased slightly to 879; another record high.

Compared to the previous five days, the rate of increase slowed considerably. 

In St. Thomas, Oxford and Elgin counties, the rates of active cases stayed steady at 16. Southwestern Public Health reported two new cases but a number of recoveries. 

This past weekend, several schools in London reported positive cases but provided no details, as is the practice of both the health unit and the school boards.

Tuesday, the provincial database said all cases involved students. 

New rules for salons, spas and other personal care service providers

Staff will be able to provide services that require clients to remove their masks as long as staff wear a medical grade procedural mask, a face shield and have been educated by management on the increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 when providing these services. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

On Tuesday, local heath officials also modified their Section 22 orders for personal care businesses, which includes hair salons, barbershops, spas, aesthetician services as well as piercing and tattoo shops. 

As of Thursday, service providers will again be allowed to provide services that require clients to remove their masks, provided the staff member performing the procedure wears a medical grade mask, a face shield and have been educated by management on the increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 when providing these services. Employees who cannot wear a mask or a face covering are not allowed to have direct contact with clients. 

The masks required by staff do not have to be N95 respirators, the health unit said.

"We continue to work with local operators in our efforts to limit further potential spread of COVID-19 while being mindful of the impact on their businesses," Dr. Chris Mackie, the medical officer of health with the MLHU, said in a media release.

"As we learn more about the novel coronavirus, how it spreads and how it behaves, we are putting measures in place to protect the community and prevent the kind of outbreaks that have been seen in other parts of the province."

The revised order also clarifies that multi-participant steam rooms, saunas, whirlpools, bathhouses and oxygen bars must be closed. Facilities that use isolation float or salt pools intended for one person can continue to operate. 

Any person breaking the rules can be fined up to $5,000 and businesses can be fined up to $25,000 a day. 

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