THUNDER BAY – The City of Thunder Bay has announced changes to municipal services as it prepares to comply with heightened provincial COVID-19 restrictions, affecting long-term care, recreational facilities, and community centres.
Health minister Christine Elliott announced on Friday the Thunder Bay District would move from the green to the yellow zone in Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework, effective Monday, Nov. 23.
The move will tighten some attendance limits and enhance targeted enforcement, though it won’t require the closure of any businesses or services.
The announcement comes after a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, 90 new cases announced in the district in the 15 days leading up to Friday.
Mayor Bill Mauro encouraged citizens to take the situation seriously, saying the lives of community members more vulnerable to the virus were at stake.
“It is important that we all follow this direction from the public health professionals,” he said in a statement issued Friday evening.
“We have clearly entered the second wave of this pandemic, and we must do absolutely everything we can to protect and support the lives of the most vulnerable citizens in our community including our seniors, people with compromised immune systems and respiratory ailments.”
While the city said its services and recreational facilities were largely already in compliance with yellow zone rules, residents will see some changes.
Effective Friday, the city implemented heightened restrictions at its Pioneer Ridge long-term care home. Residents will be able to take short-term absences for essential reasons only, while general visitation will be restricted to essential visitors only, with the city encouraging window and facetime visits.
Users of the city’s recreational facilities will see numerous changes. As of Monday, capacity will be capped at 10 people indoors per room or 25 outdoors in classes.
The city will also now require three metres of space between patrons in areas where there are weights or weight machines and exercise or fitness classes.
Reservations will be required to book time for an activity, even those previously deemed as ‘drop-in’ programs; only one reservation is required for teams
Some new measures will apply specific to certain facilities.
At community centres, for example, programs and classes will be limited to 10 people per room indoors and 25 people outdoors. The centres are also now required to close at midnight.
At the Canada Games Complex, anyone entering will require pre-booking (previously required only for swimming, fitness classes and squash). However, this can be done upon arrival at the front desk, the city said. Squash players will be encouraged to wear eye wear and masks while playing with members outside of their household.
Masks will still be required throughout all facilities, except while actively engaging in physical activity. All other protocols from the “Green – Prevent” level will still be in effect.