The Medical Officer of Health for Simcoe Muskoka reiterated the region may return to capacity limits if the current COVID-19 surge is not brought under control.
“There is a real potential for me to issue a letter of instruction requiring the capacity limits that had been lifted in October to be put back in place for businesses in an effort to bring the present surge under control,” Dr. Charles Gardner told a media briefing on Wednesday.
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) reported 106 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday.
“This is the seventh week in a row in which Simcoe Muskoka has had a higher rate than the provincial average,” said Gardner.
“We are much higher than the province as a whole, much higher than any of the health units in the Greater Toronto Area.”
The Ford government lifted indoor capacity limits for most settings in October where proof-of-vaccination is required, including bars, restaurants and gyms.
In fact, at Wednesday’s briefing, Gardner said the next logical step for him after Christmas in Ontario would be putting back capacity limits that have been lifted.
“Certainly that has an impact on businesses but wouldn’t be as severe as a kind of near-complete shut down that we’ve had in previous waves.”
Gardner said in the first three waves of the pandemic, Simcoe Muskoka was always lower than the provincial average in the number of cases, usually about half the rate.
There are 758 active COVID-19 cases and 30 people hospitalized in the region, and five are in intensive care.
“We’ve not seen an additional surge in hospitalization or ICU occupancy at this time. For sure, our occupancy is substantially higher than it has been in the summer, but over the last three weeks or so it has been about the same,” he explained.
“And it is something that I want to watch closely in addition to our case count. We certainly need to be responsive to any indication of our healthcare system being compromised or overwhelmed.”
Gardner sent an open letter on Dec. 3 to businesses, organizations and residents within the County of Simcoe, the District of Muskoka and the Cities of Orillia and Barrie, and a second letter to the Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) at each municipality appealing to everyone to continue to practice all public health measures to help reverse the increasing spread of COVID-19 in the area.