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BREAKING: Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit to be in Red-Control level as of Tuesday

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Restaurants and non-essential businesses will be welcoming back customers on Tuesday.

Ontario officials have announced the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit will be at the Red-Control level when the provincial stay-at-home order is lifted.

That means essential stores like grocery stores will only be allowed 75-percent capacity. Other retailers like liquor stores will be allowed to open to 50-percent capacity. All stores must post what their capacity limits are and must enforce passive screening of customers. 

Organized events at your home, in a backyard, or park and at staff business facilities are limited to five people inside and 25 outside. 

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Restaurants and bars are limited to 10 guests inside and are allowed outdoor dining. Guests are limited to tables of four or less. All tables must have at least two meters between them. Contact information also needs to be taken when guests arrive. The establishments will have to be closed from 10 PM to 5 AM.

Gyms can open, but only 10 people are allowed inside at one time and three meters of distance is required in areas with exercise equipment. The regulations allow for 25 people outside. Screening is also required for anyone going to a fitness centre. 

At personal care businesses, all guests will be screened before entering.

Visitor restrictions will be in place at long-term care homes in public health regions that are in the Red-Control level. Only one caregiver is allowed to visit a resident at one time.  Examples of caregivers include family members or friends, privately hired caregivers or paid companions.  General visitors aren’t allowed to visit.  Caregivers must also show that they have received a negative COVID-19 test in the past week and verbally attest to not having tested positive since then.  They can also show a negative antigen test result from the day of the visit.

The province has introduced an “emergency brake” for the reopening of all areas of the province. That brake will be pulled if the number of new COVID-19 cases starts to spike in any region, especially where a variant may be spreading. 

The emergency brake will move an area from any level of the province’s framework into the Grey-Lockdown level to control the spread of the virus. 

On Monday, Health Minister Christine Elliott said this is not a reopening or a return to normal, but rather an acknowledgment that steady progress is being made to flatten the curve of cases in Ontario. 

On Thursday, Dr. Adalsteinn Brown of Ontario’s COVID-19 Advisory Table says cases and hospitalizations are going down, but a third wave and lockdown are a very serious threat right now because of the spread of the variants.

New modelling data shows the increased spread of the variant will likely result in another surge of cases in late February.

With files from Casey Kenny

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