COVID-19 case surges are pushing regions to increase COVID-19 measures.
Four Ontario regions have added or are in the midst of reinstating restrictions locally to combat surges of COVID-19 cases.
Sudbury announced their increases in COVID-19 measures earlier this month, and Southwestern Public Health, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and Algoma Public Health came out with plans to do the same this week.
On Tuesday, November 16, Dr. Joyce Lock, medical officer of health for SWPH, announced that tighter restrictions are on the way for the region during a media conference. Algoma Public Health announced its measures in a press release on November 15.
In a media conference, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner revealed that three changes are on their way for the Simcoe Muskoka region.
Gardner says two letters of instructions will be revised, including clarifying restrictions for places of worship and adding restrictions for rules around proof of vaccination for individuals participating in indoor sports outside of school.
Once the letters of instruction come into effect, places of worship will require attendants to be actively screened for COVID-19 and symptoms. Anyone found to have symptoms would not be allowed to enter, and places of worship will be required to log the contact information of all attendees. While inside a place of worship, people will be required to physically distance and wear masks.
Children above the age of 12 participating in indoor sports outside of school will also be required to show proof of vaccination under a new letter of instruction, according to Gardner.
Sports coaches and instructors working with children are already required to show proof of vaccination, but Gardner says they will update the rules to include some children.
"So we're going to update that so that now it also includes a requirement for youth 12 and above engaging in indoor sporting activities outside of the school setting, in other locations, to provide proof of immunization. And we will choose dates within that letter to allow for individuals to obtain immunization."
The final change coming to the Simcoe Muskoka region is a "revised order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, section 22," which will soon extend to people under the age of 19.
"There is one in place already that requires cases and contacts to be isolated, but now we are extending that to include those under the age of 19 who are household contacts of an unvaccinated contact of a case."
This means that "individuals who themselves are unimmunized would be required to be in quarantine for a ten-day period."
SWPH has not released any specific details on what measures Southwestern residents can expect, but Dr. Lock did say in an audio clip captured by 94.1 St. Thomas Today that "we need to stop people from being close to one another."
"We've shown in the past that physical distancing staying apart significantly can decrease transmission and count numbers. So I think we will be looking at increasing our [critical care] capacity limits across the health unit."
Three changes were introduced to the region, with varying dates of when they come into effect.
Algoma's medical officer of health "issued a Section 22 Class Order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, effective immediately across Algoma," which means anyone who has COVID-19, suspects they may have it or has been in contact with someone who has it must "follow isolation requirements and other public health direction."
Individuals who fail to do so could be faced with a hefty fine of $750 or "up to $5,000 per day or part of each day that the offence continues, on conviction."
As of Wednesday, November 17, Sault Ste. Marie businesses and organizations were required to reinforce capacity and psychical distancing measures. Masks are also required to be worn "on the premises of businesses and organizations, and at organized public events, both indoors, and outdoors where physical distancing of at least 2 metres cannot be maintained."
Effective Friday, November 19, anyone 12 years old or older participating in organized sports outside of schools must show proof of vaccination or a valid medical exemption, including players, coaches and all officials.
The Greater Sudbury area enacted changes on November 10 in response to a "rapid rise" in COVID-19 cases, including bringing back physical distancing and capacity limits for spaces that already require proof of vaccination.
Public indoor and outdoor events now require people not from the same household to psychically distance at 2 meters apart, and organized sports also tightened up restrictions. People participating in organized sports that are 12 years old or older are currently required to show proof of vaccination in order to participate.
However, these restrictions are described as "time-limited measures," according to a press release.
Health Canada has a robust website with all the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines and can answer any questions you may have.
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