“I was a bit disappointed that the regulation did not include our area, because we border Ottawa,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, chief medical officer for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU), during today’s (September 17) media teleconference.
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Premier Doug Ford announced earlier in the day changes to the pandemic control regulations regarding the number of people allowed at social gatherings. The changes are limited to the Ottawa, Toronto, and Peel public health regions because of a huge increase in the number of COVID-19 cases reported for those areas during the past few weeks.
The change applies to non-monitored private parties and organized public events in those regions. Bars, restaurants, movie theatres, convention centres, banquet halls, gyms, and recreational sports facilities that all have staff to monitor and enforce the rules for social distancing and wearing masks are not affected by the revised regulation.
The new reduced limits for unmonitored private parties and public events are a maximum of 10 people, rather than 50, for an indoor event, and 25 people, rather than 100, for an outdoor event. The regulation change takes effect September 18 at midnight. The provincial regulations include a minimum fine of $10,000 against the organizer of such events if convicted in court.
Dr. Roumeliotis noted that the EOHU is adjacent to the Ottawa Public Health Unit and that the Prescott-Russell region borders the Ottawa-Orléans region. Many people in Clarence-Rockland, Russell Township, and other Prescott-Russell communities work in Ottawa, and there is frequent traffic between the two areas.
“I would prefer a more (broader) regional approach,” said Dr. Roumeliotis, regarding the amended social gathering limits. He and officials for other regional health units bordering Ottawa, Toronto and Peel will ask the provincial government to consider extending the coverage areas for the revised regulation on unmonitored gatherings.
“I cannot rule out the possibility that I will be issuing the same orders (in future),” said Dr. Roumeliotis.