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General News

November 16, 2020

Halton Region Moves into Control Level; What it Means for You

This article first appeared on mariannemeedward.ca.

On Friday, the Province revised the thresholds for movement in it’s new COVID-19 Framework and moved the Region of Halton into the Red (Control) level with additional restrictions to help control the spread of COVID-19. These measures take effect here in Burlington and throughout Halton at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, November 16th. The new level allows most businesses to remain open with additional protocols and restrictions. City staff have reviewed what this means for city recreation programs and services, read more here.

I support this measure, along with the new thresholds, given the new and concerning modeling that was released this week. The Halton Mayors and Regional Chair had previously requested that any additional restrictions be based on transparent heath indicators. The new data shows Halton meets the criteria for this change to a new level. You can read more about our health indicators below along with what these new measures mean for you and for area businesses and other community services.

New cases of COVID-19 have continued to rise in Halton in recent weeks, particularly in Oakville and Milton. Burlington’s numbers remain low, but we are all in this together and part of the same Public Health Unit that is seeing increases. We all must do our part to reduce infections and spread. Our Medical Officer of Health for Halton Region, Dr. Hamidah Meghani, released a statement today including a letter to the community, both of which can be found here.

In her letter, Dr. Meghani is asking all Halton residents to do the following:

  • Stay home, except for essential purposes such as going to work or school, buying essentials such as groceries, and attending medical appointments.
  • Maintain a physical distance of two metres (six feet) from those outside their household. Those that live alone may join one designated household.
  • Avoid all social gatherings such as play dates, birthday parties, and dinner parties with friends or family.

Framework:

Last week, the Province of Ontario released an updated COVID-19 response framework, adapting the public health measures to be as targeted and efficient as possible to stop the spread of the virus, manage any outbreaks as quickly as possible and avoid broad business closures. My fellow Halton Mayors and our Regional Chair were pleased to see this framework after having recently advocated for such an approach. Last week, we were placed into the PROTECT (yellow) level of the new framework, and mentioned above, tomorrow we will be moving into the CONTROL (red) level due to our growing case numbers and the newly updated thresholds for each level.

What measures are involved in the CONTROL level:

Some of the key new measures that will be put in place include (the full list of measures can be found here):

General public health measures (gatherings, workplace requirements and face coverings)
• Gathering limit for all organized public events and social gatherings: 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors
• Religious services, weddings and funerals: 30% capacity indoors and 100 people outdoors
• Requirement for workplace screening
• Face coverings required in: indoor workplaces and indoor public spaces, with limited exemptions

Restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments
• Maximum number of patrons permitted to be seated indoors is 10
• Require patrons to be seated; 2 metre minimum between tables
• Outdoor dining, take out, drive through, and delivery permitted
• Limit operating hours, establishments close at 10 p.m.
• Limit of 4 people may be seated together
• Closure of strip clubs

Sports and recreational fitness facilities
• Maximum 50 people per facility in all combined recreational fitness spaces or programs (not including pools, rinks at arenas, community centres, and multi-purpose facilities)
• Gyms and fitness studios permitted to be open with: 10 people indoors (classes) and 25 people outdoors (classes)
• 10 people indoors (areas with weights or exercise equipment)
• All sports and recreational programs in other facilities (arenas and multiplexes) limited to 10 people per room indoors and 25 outdoors
• Team sports must not be practiced or played except for training (no games or scrimmage)
• No contact permitted for team or individual sports
• No spectators permitted (exemption for parent and guardian supervision of children)
• Increase spacing between patrons to 3 metres for areas of a sport or recreational facility where there are weights or weight machines and exercise and fitness classes

Meeting and event spaces
• Maximum of 50 people per facility
• Facility limits: 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors
• Limit operating hours, establishments must close at 10 p.m.
• Limit of 4 people may be seated together

For Shopping Malls:
• Maximum 10 patrons permitted to be seated indoors in mall food court
• Require screening of patrons at mall entrances (for example, questionnaire)

Personal care services
• Services requiring removal of face coverings prohibited
• Change rooms and showers closed

Existing Measures that will continue:

  • Gathering limits of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors (*note link mentioned above to Dr. Mehani’s letter asking residents to avoid all social gatherings and physically distance from those outside your household);
  • Mandatory face coverings in indoor public spaces;
  • Maintain physical distancing; and
  • Restrict non-essential travel from areas of high transmission to areas of low transmission.

Assignments to the current levels would last for a minimum of 28 days or two-incubation periods, at which time the status of these public health unit regions will be reassessed on a weekly basis. However, movement to a more restrictive zone will be considered sooner if there are rapidly worsening trends.

If you have additional questions about the framework or need clarification on how it may impact your business or activities, please reach out to our local MPPs’ offices for further details: MPP Jane McKenna, Burlington or MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos, Oakville-North Burlington or MPP Parm Gill, Milton.

Health Indicators:

A summary of the health indicators that warrant moving Halton Region into the CONTROL level are as follows:

  • Weekly Incidence Rate of new cases: above 40 per 100,000 people;
  • Laboratory Testing Positivity: greater than 2.5%;
  • Effective Reproduction Number: above 1.2;
  • Hospital Occupancy Rate (acute care beds) and ICU Occupancy seen as adequate or increasing in occupancy; and
  • Public Health Capacity’s ability to reach confirmed cases and contacts within 24 hours is adequate or at risk of becoming overwhelmed. Established target is 90% of cases and contacts followed up within 24 hours.

Halton’s Current Virus Spread and Containment Numbers (as of Nov 12)

  • Weekly Incidence Rate: 50.1 per 100,000 people (7-day moving average);
  • Laboratory Testing Positivity: 4.4%;
  • Effective Reproduction Number: 1.0;
  • Health System Capacity – Hospital Occupancy Rate (acute care beds): at 99% (note: this number does not factor in the pandemic response unit at Joseph Brant Hospital that has an additional 91 beds or the recently announced funding for 40 additional beds there) and ICU Occupancy at 86%;
  • Public Health Capacity ability to reach confirmed cases within 24 hours: 72%; and
  • Public Health Capacity ability to reach contacts of new cases within 24 hours for the past week: 63%

You can stay informed on our numbers by visiting the Halton Region dashboard. A newly added tab – Monitoring Indicators – will display the above mentioned indicators and provide the public with a snapshot of COVID-19 activity in Halton, and the role that labs, public health, and hospitals are playing in the response. These indicators can help inform understanding of when additional restrictions may be required, and aspects of the response that may require additional resources.

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