The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit will be back in the red zone Monday (March 8) after a seven-day lockdown.
The province announced some shifts today of health units moving to the colour-coded COVID-19 Response Framework, and the local region was among three moving to red.
According to the province's announcement, the decision was made in consultation with area medical officers of health.
The grey/lockdown designation in Simcoe Muskoka was announced last Friday (Feb. 28) after Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer for the region asked the province for more restrictions in the area because of a rise in variant cases and a 30 per cent week-over-week spike in total case counts.
Since then, case totals for the region have dropped by 21 per cent, and Gardner has faced public opposition from residents of the region, business owners, and mayors and councils. The region still has the highest number of confirmed B.1.1.7 (UK) variant cases than any other health unit in Ontario.
Ontario's chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, warned everyone "must remain vigilant," even where lockdowns and stay-at-home orders are lifted.
"The best defence against this virus and all of its variants of concern remains continuing to stay at home, avoiding social gatherings, only travelling outside of your community for essential purposes, and limiting close contacts to your household or those you live with," said Williams.
Under grey/lockdown, gyms and personal care services are required to close. With red zone restrictions in place, both could reopen with limited capacity.
The Ontario COVID-19 Response Framework includes the following restrictions:
- 30 per cent capacity limit indoors for religious services, rites, or ceremonies
- Max of five people indoors, 25 people outdoors organized public events and social gatherings where physical distancing is maintained
- Max of 10 people indoors for restaurants, cafes, etc, all must be seated, limit of four seated together
- Max of 10 people indoors for gyms, meeting spaces, and sports facilities, 25 for outdoor classes
- 75 per cent capacity limit for supermarkets, pharmacies, convenience stores
- 50 per cent capacity limit for all other retail
- Personal care services permitted provided no service requires the removal of a face covering
- Cinemas and performing arts facilities must be closed to spectators