Peel region has rejected the province’s COVID-19 guidelines as too lenient, and is bringing in its own.
The region’s top public health official, Doctor Lawrence Loh, says it’s critical that the COVID-19 hot spot bring things under control because the indicators are trending “in the wrong direction.”
“Case counts and test positivity rates remain high, public health capacity is stretched thin, and hospitals are at capacity with some procedures cancelled,” the region’s health authority said in a statement.
According to the statement, William Osler Health System is in gridlock with close to 60 patients with COVID-19 in hospital, 40 suspect patients, and a growing number of cases in the ICU. Trillium Health Partners is close to capacity. Both hospital systems have active outbreaks inside their facilities.
Starting Monday, bars, restaurants and other food establishments must restrict seating to people from the same household – no mixed seating is permitted.
Gyms and fitness centres must make sure all class participants pre-register and provide accurate contact information. No walk-in participation is allowed.
Meeting and event spaces, including banquet halls, must close.
Residents of the region must only interact with members of their own households. Those that live alone may join one designated household.
Residents of Peel should not visit any other household or allow visitors to their homes or yards, except for emergency reasons.
Additional measures are also set to take effect next Friday including bans on social gatherings celebrating holidays and life events in business establishments as well as wedding receptions are banned until at least January.
Health officials in the region are recommending that religious services be held virtually and if that’s not possible, indoor capacity must not exceed 50 people.
Loh cautioned that these strict measures are needed to avoid a lockdown.
“These directives are strict, but they are what is needed to keep people in Peel working and learning,” said Dr. Loh. “We must take aggressive action now to get the pandemic under control in Peel.”
The province introduced a new colour-coded assessment system on Saturday. Only Peel Region, which has seen rising cases in recent weeks, was deemed a red zone, while other hot spots such as York Region and Ottawa were labelled orange.
On Saturday, Peel reported 258 new cases which trailed only Toronto with 336 new infections.