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Health unit urges vaccination and continuing preventive measures as restrictions ease

Feb 16, 2022
SIMCOE MUSKOKA – As capacity and gathering restrictions in Simcoe Muskoka and the rest of the province are set to ease on Feb. 17 in keeping with the Government of Ontario’s reopening plan, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) reminds residents of the importance of continuing to follow public health preventive measures.

SIMCOE MUSKOKA – As capacity and gathering restrictions in Simcoe Muskoka and the rest of the province are set to ease on Feb. 17 in keeping with the Government of Ontario’s reopening plan, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) reminds residents of the importance of continuing to follow public health preventive measures.  

Although transmission has been declining, we still have very high rates of COVID-19 transmission in our communities, and preventive measures are still needed to protect people,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, SMDHU’s medical officer of health. “As restrictions begin to ease across Simcoe Muskoka and interactions increase, it is more important than ever that all individuals eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine get theirs as soon as possible. Vaccination, including a booster dose, helps reduce a person’s risk for severe illness and chance of requiring hospitalization if they become infected with COVID-19, especially for those 50 years and older.”

“It is also essential that everyone continue to follow basic public health prevention measures to slow the transmission of COVID-19, including staying home when feeling ill, maintaining a physical distance of at least 2 metres from those living outside of your household, wearing a mask indoors and outdoors when physical distancing is not possible, covering your cough, and washing your hands regularly,” added Dr. Gardner.

Vaccinations are available by appointment or walk-in at health unit community clinics for first and second doses for anyone five years and older, and booster doses for individuals 18 years or older who received their second dose at least 84 days ago. As of Friday, Feb. 18, individuals 12 to 17 years who received their second dose at least 168 days ago will also be eligible for a booster dose.

Under the next phase of the province’s reopening plan, social gathering size limits will increase to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. Organized public events will have the same indoor limit but no limit on outdoor events. Capacity limits for indoor weddings, funerals or religious services, rites, or ceremonies will also increase to the number of people who can maintain two metres physical distance. Capacity limits are removed if the location opts-in to use proof of vaccination or if the service, rite, or ceremony is occurring outdoors.

Capacity limits for indoor public settings, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, retail and shopping malls, will be maintained at, or increased to, the number of people who can maintain two metres physical distance. Capacity limits in indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required are also lifting and include:

  • Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments without dance facilities
  • Non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms
  • Cinemas
  • Meeting and event spaces, including conference centres or convention centres
  • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
  • Indoor areas of settings that choose to opt-in to proof of vaccination requirements.

Public spaces such as sports arenas, concert venues and theatres will now allow 50 per cent of seating capacity, while indoor capacity limits of 25 per cent will exist in higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, including nightclubs, restaurants where there is dancing, as well as bathhouses and sex clubs.

Updated guidance documents for local businesses and organizations affected by these new regulations will be posted to the health unit’s website in the coming days.

To learn more about COVID-19, vaccines and current public health safety measures and requirements, visit www.smdhu.org/COVID19.

 

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