Southwestern Public Health on Monday afternoon, Nov. 29, issued new public health restrictions that will come into place on Thursday, Dec. 2, but only for certain communities including Aylmer, Bayham and Malahide, but not Central Elgin or St. Thomas.
The measures were in response to the rising cases of COVID-19, the health unit stated, and were directed at municipalities with a weekly incidence rate of 80 cases or more per 100,000 of population and/or COVID-19 vaccination rates under 80 percent for those residents 12 and older, as of Friday, Nov. 26.
The restrictions will stay in place for at least six weeks.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Joyce Lock is issuing “a letter of instruction” to some businesses in the affected areas, requiring them to stay below 50 percent of their maximum capacity to promote physical distancing indoors.
“For several weeks the cases in our region have risen steadily,” she said in a statement. “Our test percent positivity, our number of cases per 100,000 people, and the pressure on our hospitals all indicate measures must be put into place to stem this rise.
“These high case counts are taxing local health care providers and disrupting both workplaces and schools.”
Municipalities that would be affected include, beside Aylmer, Bayham and Malahide, West Elgin, Tillsonburg and South-West Oxford and three more in Oxford County.
Affected public indoor spaces include: meeting and event spaces; restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments without dance areas; personal care spaces; sports and recreation facilities; indoor recreational amenities; concert venues, theatres and cinemas.
Indoor weddings, funerals and religious services can only operate at 50 percent of capacity.
While the letter of instruction doesn’t change provincial limits on indoor gatherings of at most 25 participants or outdoors of at most 100, the health unit was “strongly recommending” limiting indoor events.