THUNDER BAY - The Thunder Bay District Health Unit will be moving to the next threshold in the province’s COVID-19 Response Framework after a recent spike in cases.
The announcement was made Friday by Minister of Health Christine Elliott during the daily media briefing at Queen’s Park. The move to Yellow will take effect on Monday, Nov. 23.
The Yellow, or protect measure, includes enhanced targeted enforcement, fines, and enhanced education to limit the spread of COVID-19 and apply public health measures in high-risk areas.
Cases in Ontario continue to rise, with more than 1,400 cases reported on Friday. There were seven new cases reported by the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, bringing the total number of cases to 207 since the pandemic began and 90 new cases in the last 15 days.
The Thunder Bay District Health Unit joins Public Health Sudbury and Districts as the only public health units in Northern Ontario to move out of the Green, or prevent classification and into Yellow.
Several other health units throughout the province also moved into higher thresholds, while Toronto Public Health and Peel Regional Public Health Unit have moved into lockdown.
“We are teetering on the edge of having to delay scheduled surgeries,” Premier Doug Ford said. “I’ve been clear on this. This situation is extremely serious. Further action is required to avoid the worst-case scenario.”
“We cannot put in class learning at risk. We can’t risk widespread outbreaks in our long-term care homes. We cannot risk overwhelming our hospitals. To protect our most vulnerable, to protect what matters most, we have to get the community spread under control.”
No official travel restrictions have been put in place from moving from a locked down region to one at a lower classification, but the provincial government is strongly advising against it.
“We are asking people in the high areas not to go to lower colour areas,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams. “That doesn’t only apply to lockdown, that’s red versus orange, etc. We haven’t put that restriction on, but we are asking people to adhere to that.”
Earlier this month, members of the business community expressed concerns about what further restrictions could mean, but Charla Robinson, president of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce, said it should not cause a significant impact on local businesses.
Ford is also encouraging the people of Ontario to shop local and support local businesses, especially leading into the holiday season.
“Please, shop local,” he said. “If you are shopping online, I know it can be easy to just go with Amazon. But please remember you can buy the exact same product from local stores.”