Eastern Ontario Health Unit imposes new COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants, gyms, fitness centres

OTTAWA — The Eastern Ontario Health Unit is imposing new restrictions on food and drink establishments, sports and recreation facilities and personal care services in Alexandria, Cornwall, Casselman, Clarence-Rockland, Hawkesbury and other areas of eastern Ontario.

The new measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the community were announced as Public Health Ontario reported 43 new cases of COVID-19 in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region on Saturday.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis issued a new Order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act that that will come into effect on Monday, and remain in effect for 28 days.

“The last thing I want is for businesses in our community to have to shut their doors again as they did in the spring,” said Dr. Roumeliotis.

“By putting these new measures in place, I’m hoping we can stop the rising number of infections and prevent another shutdown that would hurt our economy.”

The new COVID-19 measures include limiting the number of people who can be seated at a table in bars and restaurants to a maximum of six people, while the total number of patrons in the indoor and outdoor sections of a food and drink establishment must not exceed 100.

Indoor dining at bars and restaurants in eastern Ontario is still allowed. 

For banquet halls, the total number of patrons permitted in the premises cannot exceed 50 indoors or 100 outdoors.

Establishments must also conduct a COVID-19 screen on every patron and record their name and contact information.

“This really mimics what happened on Oct. 2 when Ottawa, Toronto and Peel were put in these enhanced zones, before they were put into the red hot zone,” said Dr. Roumeliotis during a media conference late Friday.

“I think this is very fair request and saving closures.”

The new measures for indoor sports and recreational facilities include limiting the total number of people permitted in a class, organized program or organized activity to a maximum of 10 people, excluding staff. The total number of people permitted in the facility, across all organized activities, cannot exceed 50.

The order applies to gymnasiums, health clubs, community centres, multi-purpose facilities, arenas, exercise studios, yoga studios, dance studios, and other indoor fitness centres.

For personal care settings, including hair salons and barber shops, manicure and pedicure salons, spas and tanning salons, they must conduct a COVID-19 screen for every client and record their name and contact information.

Last Sunday, Dr. Roumeliotis told CTV News Ottawa the region may have to consider moving to a modified Stage 2, like Ottawa, due to rising COVID-19 cases.

On Thursday, the medical officer of health said he was no longer recommending eastern Ontario move into a modified Stage 2, but wanted to impose new restrictions on establishments to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

Ontario introduced new restrictions on bars, restaurants, fitness centres and other recreation complexes in Ottawa on Oct. 2. On Oct. 10, the Ontario Government moved Ottawa into a modified Stage 2, which included prohibiting indoor dining at bars and restaurants, and closed fitness centres and movie theatres.

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