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Ontario adds new COVID-19 related restrictions

Ontario adds new COVID-19 related restrictions

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

DURHAM/KAWARTHA: The Ontario government has made changes to COVID-19 protocols, in order to combat the second wave of the virus. The government announced multiple changes at a press conference, on Friday, October 2nd. One of the new announced measures is, transitioning assessment centres in Ontario to appointment based testing, and discontinuing walk-in testing. According to a provincial press release, this will allow Ontario’s labs to “make significant progress in processing tests,” and will “allow assessment centres the necessary time to reset, deep clean, and ensure preparedness for the new appointment-based model.” The new appointment based system went into effect on Tuesday, October 6th. The province is also mandating the wearing of masks or other face coverings in public indoor spaces across Ontario. While both Durham Region and Kawartha Lakes have already previously adopted mandatory mask policies, Pickering-Uxbridge MPP Peter Bethlenfalvy explained, the provincial mandate gives regional orders more legitimacy and power; specifically, if necessary, to charge non-compliant people under the province’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. “The safety of all Ontarians is our top priority, and we take advice from the public health officials, the chief medical officer, and the Chief Medical Officer for Durham Dr. Robert Kyle. This type of advice that we get from the medical table, is going to help, here in Durham and across the province, to beat [COVID-19]. That is the number one goal, to beat it together,” MPP Bethlenfalvy said. “It’s a regulation now, that [people] will have to follow, and enforcement officials, whether it is bylaw officers or the various authorities, can use the tools they have to enforce the regulations, and I think we don’t want it to come to that. We want people to practice social distancing, wear the mask when they can’t physically distance, and wash their hands and take care of each other. Also download the COVID alert app.” The province is putting a pause on further re-openings of businesses because case numbers are starting to see large daily increases again. Provincial officials are advising people to “allow close contact, only with people living in their own household.” Premier Doug Ford explained the reasoning behind making these recent changes. “Earlier this week, we received a real wake up call. We saw from the modelling update, that if we don’t act now to halt these trends, we could see 1,000 new cases a day by mid-October.”

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