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KFL&A MOH announces restrictions as region reaches highest COVID-19 rates in Ontario

As the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) region continues to experience record-setting daily numbers of new COVID-19 cases, the region’s Medical Officer of Health (MOH) has announced new – or reinstated – restrictions.

The graph of new cases of COVID-19 in KFL&A as of Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. Graphic via KFL&A Public Health.

On Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, Dr. Piotr Oglaza, MOH for KFL&A Public Health, issued a Letter of Instruction pursuant to Section 2 of Schedule 1 of the Ontario Regulation 364/20: Rules for Areas at Step 3 and at the Roadmap Exit Strategy. These regulations will require KFL&A businesses and organizations to “reinstate capacity limits, and strengthen requirements around masking, physical distancing, and other public health measures,” KFL&A Public Health said in a press release the same day.

“We are seeing a significant spike in cases in multiple settings and sectors due to the new variant of concern, Omicron. Omicron is highly transmissible and has made the KFL&A region one of the highest COVID-19 case rates in the province,” Dr. Oglaza said in a statement. “Enhanced protective measures are required to reduce the number of contacts people have with one another to slow disease transmission within the community and to protect our businesses, schools, organizations, health care resources, workers, and residents.”

In the 20-page Letter of Instruction, Oglaza refers to the spread of COVID-19 in KFL&A over the past few weeks and the notable spike in positive cases over the past week alone.

“KFL&A Public Health reported… 117 cases on Dec. 12, 2021, and 100 cases on Dec. 13, 2021. This included 471 confirmed and suspect cases of the Omicron variant. KFL&A Public Health is recording the highest seven-day rate of new cases it’s ever seen, with 373.3 cases per 100,000 [people],” the Letter reads.

“These rates are amongst the highest rates ever observed in the province in any PHU (Public Health Unit) in a week… With over 1,000 active cases, and an active case rate that is 1.8 times that of the next highest Public Health Unit in Ontario – 433 per 100,000 [people] vs. 242 per 100,000 [people],” it continues.

“The surge in COVID-19 cases is not linked to a single setting or sector, as such, broad measures are required to reduce the number of contacts people have with one another. Transmission is widespread – especially in those aged 18 to 29, for whom vaccination rates are low and case rates high – and KFL&A Public Health is experiencing a record number of COVID-19 outbreaks.”

As of Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, KFL&A Public Health was reporting 39 active outbreaks in the region, consisting of 291 cases – nearly 25 per cent of the current 1,186 cases (the most active cases seen in the region since the start of the pandemic.)

What the new restrictions mean

KFL&A residents can read the entire Letter of Instruction here, though it mainly pertains to measures that must be taken by businesses and organizations. Public Health highlighted the following items of note from the Letter:

1) Reinforce the critical importance of public health measures to prevent COVID-19 transmission.

  • Continue to operate in accordance with all applicable laws, including Occupational Health and Safety Act and instructions under the ROA, 2020 in addition to these instructions that impose one or more additional requirements not set out in Ontario Regulations 364/20.

2) Reinstate recent provincial changes lifting capacity limits and physical distancing requirements in the Step 3 Rules. This will affect the following businesses and organizations:

  • Meeting and event spaces, including conference and convention centres
  • Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments without dance facilities
  • Facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities, including areas for spectators within those facilities and areas where personal physical fitness trainers provide instruction within those facilities
  • Places where commercial film and television production takes place
  • Concert venues, theatres, and cinemas
  • Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions, in respect of indoor areas
  • Casinos, bingo halls, and other gaming establishments
  • Horse racing tracks, car racing tracks, and other similar venues
  • Amusement parks, in respect of indoor areas
  • Fairs, rural exhibitions, festivals and similar events, in respect of indoor areas
  • Businesses that provide tour and guide services, including guided hunting trips, tastings, and tours for wineries, breweries and distilleries, fishing charters, trail riding tours, walking tours, and bicycle tours, in respect of indoor areas
  • Businesses that provide boat tours, if the business is otherwise permitted to operate under section 30 of schedule 2, O. Reg. 364/20
  • Businesses and facilities permitted to opt-in to proof of identification and vaccination requirements:
    • Real estate agencies, in respect of open houses hosted by the real estate agency
    • Businesses that provide personal care services relating to the hair or body, including hair salons and barbershops, manicure and pedicure salons, aesthetician services, piercing services, tanning salons, spas, and tattoo studios
    • Indoor recreational amenities
    • Outdoor recreational amenities, in respect of indoor clubhouses
    • Photography studios and services, in respect of indoor areas
    • Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions, in respect of indoor areas
    • Amusement parks, in respect of indoor areas
    • Fairs, rural exhibitions, festivals and similar events, in respect of indoor areas
    • Businesses that provide tour and guide services, including guided hunting trips, tastings and tours for wineries, breweries and distilleries, fishing charters, trail riding tours, walking tours and bicycle tours, in respect of indoor areas
    • Businesses that provide boat tours, if the business is otherwise permitted to operate under section 30 of schedule 2, O. Reg. 364/20

3) Strengthen masking requirements for facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities and organized public events and tighten gathering limits for organized public events. This will affect the following businesses and organizations:

  • Facilities used for indoor or outdoor sports and recreational fitness activities
  • Organized public events, indoor and outdoor

4) Modify sport to achieve physical distancing in facilities used for indoor or outdoor sports and recreational fitness activities.

“It is truly remarkable how far we have come with almost 90 per cent of eligible individuals vaccinated in the KFL&A region; however, with the widespread circulation of the virus in our community, our response also needs to be widespread, reducing mobility and face-to-face interactions overall. COVID-19 must not be underestimated,” added Dr. Oglaza. “Every action matters—this means that every additional public health measure that you take will reduce the chances that you will get infected and develop serious acute or long-term symptoms of COVID-19.”

The best way for individuals to protect themselves against the new Omicron variant of concern is to:

  • Get fully vaccinated and seek a third dose when eligible.
  • Screen for symptoms of COVID-19 daily, stay home, isolate, and get tested even if symptoms are mild.
  • Avoid social gatherings and limit visiting others or having guests over.
  • Stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with and wear a mask in indoor spaces.
  • Consider curbside pick-up, delivery, or alternate hours for shopping, especially if you are at a higher risk for illness.
  • Clean your hands frequently.

Further, KFL&A Public Health reiterated how and where those in the region can obtain COVID-19 testing, offering the following information.

COVID-19 testing appointments can be booked online or by phone at:

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