Waterloo Region moved from “restrict” to “control” level after recent COVID-19 cases

0

On Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, Waterloo Public Health reported 45 new positive tests for COVID-19, adding  up to a total of 2,577 cases in Waterloo.

Last week, the average case number rose by 40   per day. Fortunately, no new   COVID-19-related deaths have been recorded  since the beginning of November. As of late, Waterloo has 286 active cases – with five people in hospital – and the death toll remains at 121.

  Two reported outbreaks have been confirmed by the Waterloo Public Health, bringing the total number to 19. The first outbreak happened in a fitness facility, where nine people had tested positive. The second outbreak  took place  in the construction industry, where two people have tested positive. The positive test results from the two outbreaks mentioned above are connected to the Algarve Restaurant outbreak in Kitchener. As of Monday, Nov. 23, 2020, the region is expected to be moved to the red zone, as confirmed by Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott. 

This means further restrictions will be imposed on  indoor places and activities, including bars, restaurants, gyms, and more.

Some of these indoor restrictions include the following:

  • People must screen before entering public buildings.
  • People must wear masks at all times except for eating or drinking.
  • Social gatherings are limited to 5 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
  • Restaurants, bars, and other food and drink establishments must have at most 10 people and a limit of four people for each table.
  • Tables need to be separated by at least two metres or by a barrier.
  • Outdoor dining, drive-through, take outs, and delivery are accepted.
  • Live performances with brass or wind instruments are prohibited.
  • Restaurants and bars need to close at 10 p.m.
  • Personal care services must be closed.
  • Hair salons and barbershops can remain open. However, services that require removing masks are prohibited.
  • Movie theatres and performing art facilities must close unless used for rehearsals or recording an event.

Provincial officials have said that more enforcement measures will be in place, such as placing a $750 fine for anybody who does not follow the guidelines.

According to the province’s newest COVID-19 system, a controlled level consists of a weekly incidence rate of 40 cases per 100,000 people, a positivity rate of 2.5 per cent or higher, and a reproduction rate of 1.2 per cent or higher. 

Dr. Julie Emili stated that Waterloo’s weekly incidence rate is 46 cases per 100,000 people, its positivity rate is 3.6 per cent, and its reproductive rate is 1.9 per cent. Based on the records confirmed by Dr. Emili and the public health officials, the region has exceeded the target rate.

Because of the data and recent events, restrictionsare now taking effect starting on Monday.

Before moving to the red zone, the Medical Officer of Health consulted with the province on the proposed system. The officer stated that “given our current situation, we recommend that businesses prepare for the possibility that we may be moved to the new Red-Control Category next week.” 

The possibility of a second wave concerned people, knowing that their lives will be much more difficult, especially those who are working during the pandemic.

Minto Schneider, CEO of Explore Waterloo Region, gave his optimistic thoughts about Waterloo’s recent move. 

“I think it’s going to make it even tougher for restaurants to survive since they’ve been struggling since March, when they were initially closed. Closing earlier will mean it reduces the number of people they can have, they can’t have a second or third seating to make it more difficult for them to make a living.”

If cases continue to grow due to disregard for safety restrictions, it will be more likely for Waterloo to  have another lock-down, similar to current measures in Toronto.