New restrictions announced for parts of the SWPH region
Middlesex Center and St. Thomas, Ont. –
Southwestern Public Health (SWPH) has announced it is adding new capacity limits in some areas to promote physical distancing in a bid to curb the increase in the number of cases.
The new rules will take effect Thursday at midnight and last for at least six weeks by:
- South West Oxford
- Elgin West
Municipalities were selected because they have a weekly COVID-19 incidence rate of 80 or more cases per 100,000 or an immunization rate of less than 80% for ages 12 and older. Large cities like St. Thomas and Woodstock are not included.
SWPH’s letter of direction sets capacity limits at 50 percent – as they were in Stage Three of Ontario’s plan to reopen – in a number of indoor locations, including:
- meeting and event spaces
- restaurants, bars and other dining establishments without dancing
- places of personal care services, even with compulsory vaccination
- sports and recreational fitness activities
- interior recreational facilities
- concert halls, theaters and cinemas
In addition, the collection limits for weddings, funerals and religious services where proof of vaccination is required are also set at 50%.
“For several weeks, cases in our region have continued to increase. Our percentage of positive tests, our number of cases per 100,000 people and the pressure on our hospitals all indicate that measures must be put in place to stem this increase, ”said Dr. Joyce Lock, SWPH’s medical officer of health in a report. communicated. “These high numbers of cases tax local health care providers and disrupt both workplaces and schools.”
Malahide Township Mayor Dave Mennill supports Lock’s decision, saying public health and safety come first.
“Obviously they’re looking at the areas with the lowest vaccination rates and Aylmer, Malahide and Bayham are certainly one of the lowest in all of Elgin County. “
Karen Davies, CEO of St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, said hospitalizations remain high, varying between 11 and 18 patients in the past two weeks. Currently, there are five unvaccinated COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit (ICU).
“We have sent five COVID patients requiring the highest level of ICUs to other hospitals in the past 10 days. We have sent four to (London) and one to Stratford … We have about 15 patients who are currently admitted with swabs pending, and I would say it’s a very dynamic situation. “
SWPH officials are also calling for anyone with symptoms to be tested and urging people to get vaccinated as the majority of cases that end up in hospital go unvaccinated.
And as the holidays approach, Mennill added that the upcoming dating season is likely a factor in the decision as well.
“And so I think they’re looking at the fact that there’s going to be Christmas gatherings, and we want to keep people safe as much as possible. And II understand why they’re doing that. I guess the good news is. it’s not a complete lockdown. “
At Aylmer Nails and Spa, owner Thi Pham says the restrictions are going to hurt, but agrees that at least it’s not a complete closure and that they will follow the rules.
“It’s not good news, but it’s better than closed … Maybe (the clients) have to wait outside until the date arrives, then they can’t. wait inside here. “
Full details on the limits and restrictions, which are in place until at least January 10, 2022, can be found here.