One Ontario city is already bringing back Step 3 restrictions due to COVID spikes
As of 12:01 a.m. this morning, Greater Sudbury is the first region in Ontario to revert back to an earlier version of pandemic lockdown rules on account of spiking COVID-19 numbers.
This, after little more than two weeks of full capacity at bars, restaurants, gyms, event spaces and pretty much everywhere else proof-of-vaccination documents are required.
"In response to rapidly rising COVID-19 case counts in Greater Sudbury, and in consultation with Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, I have determined that it is — unfortunately — necessary to take further and immediate action to limit the spread of this virus," wrote the region's medical officer of health, Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, in a 22-page instructional letter released Tuesday.
"The provincial Plan to Safely Reopen Ontario requires local public health to monitor trends and to put in place additional protections as warranted. Greater Sudbury is experiencing a spike in people testing positive for COVID-19."
Sutcliffe goes on to explain that Sudbury and its districts have seen an uptick in new cases since provincial restrictions began lifting on Oct. 9, and that "we now have the highest case rates in the province by far."
"With 219 cases currently active, Public Health Sudbury & Districts is recording the highest rate of active cases amongst Ontario's 34 health units and the highest we've seen since April 2020," reads the letter.
"The 7-day rate of new cases (incidence rate) is double that of the next highest public health unit in Ontario—151.5 per 100 000 vs. 92.7 per 100 000."
In an effort to stop the spread and protect vulnerable residents, Sutcliffe has implemented what she called a "circuit-breaker" to interrupt chains of transmission within the community.
"Since no single setting or sector is driving the increase, broad measures are required to reduce the number of contacts people have with one another. Transmission is widespread—especially in those aged 18 to 39, for whom vaccination rates are low and case rates are high," wrote the doctor.
"Our situation could get even worse with the winter months when more people will be inside for longer periods of time. We are in a very different place than the rest of the province."
Thus, effective as of Nov. 10 at 12:01 a.m., the region has "temporarily reinstate[d] recent provincial changes lifting capacity limits and physical distancing requirements in the Step 3 Rules."
The medical officer has also mandated the strengthening of mask requirements at organized public events and provincial proof of vaccination requirements for organized sports involving anyone over the age of 12.
While not ideal, Sutcliffe writes that the measures will "protect local businesses and workers by — we hope — avoiding any need for more drastic measures."
In addition to reinstating capacity limits and other Step 3 public health restrictions, officials in Sudbury are asking everyone to work from home where possible, minimize their non-essential outings and get tested if they feel at all unwell.
"Consider the number of people and the vaccination status of your potential contacts," said Sutcliffe. "I am appealing to everyone in Greater Sudbury to ramp up your COVID-19 prevention actions—help us keep kids in school, protect vulnerable individuals, and safeguard our health system capacity."
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