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Southwestern Public Health moves from red to orange zone

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Oxford and Elgin counties will be moving into the Orange Zone of Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework on Monday, March 1st.

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“Following a very difficult December and January with high case loads and many associated deaths, cases have decreased in all settings,” said Dr. Joyce Lock, Medical Officer of Health for the region in a media release.

“Most of our cases can be traced to a specific source, meaning there is less community transmission. We are down to (one) active outbreak in our institutions. However, we know that there are variants of concern circulating across the province and we must exercise caution to ensure they do not get a foothold here.”

Southwestern Public Health unit reported eight new COVID-19 cases Friday with 43 ongoing cases in the Oxford-Elgin region, including one in Tillsonburg. Aylmer (16) and Woodstock (14) currently have the highest number of cases in the region.

As of Thursday, the region had one hospitalized case in ICU.

“What I want everyone to consider is how, in the context of the Orange-Zone, you can stay safe. There will be a temptation to socialize more, to open our homes to friends and family. To gather in groups. I urge everyone to continue limiting close contact, to keep your distance, to mask up, and to socialize outdoors when the weather supports that opportunity. We don’t want a backward slide. We want to keep people safe and healthy until the vaccine is more widely available.”

Orange Zone highlights

Always stay home if you have symptoms… physically distance by staying two metres apart from people you do not live with… wear a mask or face covering in indoor public spaces… and avoid non-essential travel.

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Events and social gatherings in private homes, backyards, or parks are limited to 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors.

Organized public events and gatherings in staffed businesses and facilities are limited to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.

Religious, wedding, and funeral services may operate at 30% capacity indoors. Outdoor services may not have more than 100 people.

Restaurants, bars, and other food and drink establishments have a capacity limit of 50 people indoors and a maximum of four people per table.

Sports and recreational fitness facilities have indoor capacity limits of 10 people per class or 50 people in areas with weights and exercise machines.

Non-contact team games can be played with 50 people per league in the facilities.

Personal care services that require a guest to remove their mask or face covering are not permitted.

A full list of Orange requirements is on the Ontario.ca website.

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