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Ontario moves Sarnia area into Grey-Lockdown as COVID-19 cases increase

Friday, March 12, 2021 @ 4:42 PM | By John Schofield

As new COVID-19 cases continue climbing, Ontario has again implemented its so-called emergency brake policy to move the Sarnia-Lambton area into the Grey-Lockdown level of public health restrictions effective March 15 at 12:01 a.m.

In a March 12 news release, the government also announced that, at the same time, the Northwestern Health Unit will move to the Red-Control zone and the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit will go to Yellow-Protect under Ontario’s colour-coded COVID-19 response framework.

The news release noted that, from March 3 to 9, Lambton Public Health’s case rate increased by 30.9 per cent to 110.0 cases per 100,000 people, well above the provincial average. During the same period, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the region increased by 33.3 per cent.

On March 12, the Sudbury area also moved to Grey-Lockdown through the government’s emergency brake process.

The government also announced on March 12 that it is adjusting capacity limits for weddings, funerals and religious services, rites or ceremonies held in regions currently in the Grey-Lockdown zone. Effective March 15 at 12:01 a.m., weddings, funerals and religious services will be permitted to allow up to 15 per cent total occupancy indoors or a maximum of 50 people outdoors.

On March 12, Ontario reported 1,371 new COVID-19 cases and 18 deaths, as the province’s total active caseload reached more than 11,500 — its highest level in more than three weeks. The hot spots continued to be Toronto, with 371 new cases, Peel with 225, York Region with 111 and Hamilton with 109.

On March 11, Ontario’s science advisory table said that variants of concern are currently responsible for about 42 per cent of new daily cases and predicted that the province will likely need to tighten restrictions again soon.

The government urged Ontarians to only leave home or to travel to other regions for essential purposes. In addition, people are required to wear a face covering when within two metres of another individual who is not part of their household (both indoors and outdoors).

In a roundtable March 11 marking the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, NDP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath expressed solidarity with those most impacted. And in a March 11 news release, NDP finance critic Catherine Fife pointed to a new report by Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office that noted that, as of Dec. 31, 2020, the Ontario government had still not spent $4.7 billion in federal COVID-19 funding.

“That money could have been spent on paid sick days, more staff in long-term care, in-workplace testing to prevent outbreaks and more,” she said in the release. “Investing in long-term care over the summer and fall could have saved some of the nearly 2,000 people who died in nursing homes during the second wave.”

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