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Thunder Bay District moving to yellow COVID-19 level

The move to the new classification includes enhanced targeted enforcement but does not require the closure of any businesses or services.
Thunder Bay District Health Unit

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.

"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,” said Mayor Bill Mauro in a statement following the announcement.

“It is important that we all follow this direction from the public health professionals. The spread of a second wave is very real, and we need to act now and get ahead of any possible increased transmission.”

Thunder Bay Districth Health Unit medical officer of health, Dr. Janet DeMille, said while the city has seen an increase in cases, including two outbreaks, the recent weeks have shown how quickly COVID-19 can spread. 

"It is important that we all take the necessary measures to control the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” she said. “Moving into the “yellow” category means that certain business, such as restaurants, bars, and fitness facilities, for example, will adopt enhanced measures to reduce spread of the virus in those in those facilities.“

Changes to city run facilities include reservations being required for activities previously served as drop-in at recreational centres, programs and classes at community centres will be limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, alcohol can only be served between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m., and a limit of six people are permitted to sit together. At the Canada Games Complex, anyone entering the facility is required to pre-book time and squash players are advised to wear masks and goggles. 

Visitation to city run long-term care facilities is restricted to only essential vistors and window visits or virtual visits are recommended. The health unit is also recommending all long-term care facilities restrict non-essential visitation.  

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.”



Doug Diaczuk

About the Author: Doug Diaczuk

Doug Diaczuk is a reporter and award-winning author from Thunder Bay. He has a master’s degree in English from Lakehead University
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