As the Government of Ontario increased COVID-19 restrictions in the Southwestern Public Health region, at least one Elgin County entrepreneur raised the bar for vigilance even higher.
“It has been a difficult decision that feels as though it flies in the face of everything that hospitality stands for,” said Kim Saunders, proprietor at Windjammer Inn, in Port Stanley, “but as the restrictions increase we have decided to limit dine-in (access) to locals only.”
On Facebook, Saunders appealed to patrons for patience and understanding, as the Windjammer limits dine-in patrons to people who reside within a 50-kilometer radius of the William Street restaurant. “ … We are only doing this to protect our beloved community and make everyone’s experience as safe and pleasant as possible.
“As soon as we are safely able, we will welcome our far-flung visitors with open arms,” she continued. “It’s a little ironic, a decision I never envisioned I would make – or have to make – particularly in a small, seasonal resort town that relies heavily on visitors. But for now, this is just the way I believe that we can continue to operate and be socially conscious for our guests and our team.”
Effective at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, November 23, 2020, the Province is raising Southwestern Public Health into the “Orange-Restrict” tier of the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework for COVID-19. The new framework sets out five levels for public health: Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Lockdown.
The region has gone from Green to Orange in two weeks. Southwestern Public Health was elevated into the Yellow-Protect tier on November 13, 2020, having started out in the Green-Prevent tier on November 6, 2020, when the new framework was introduced.
“Our local cases continue to rise, which puts our community at-risk,” said Dr. Joyce Lock, Medical Officer of Health at Southwestern Public Health. The Orange-Restrict stage will remain in effect for at least 28 days. “We need to modify our behaviors immediately to keep our community healthy and thriving for the long-term.
“The business community has been hit hard by COVID-19,” added Dr. Lock. “Please consider how your actions can help keep businesses open while still avoiding the significant illness in our more vulnerable residents that is associated with this virus.
“Our goal is to reduce the incidence of COVID-19 so we can move back down to the Yellow-Protect tier, and eventually regain the control of this virus that we experienced in Green-Prevent,” said Dr. Lock. The Orange-Restrict ranking is based on the increasing number of cases, more evidence of community transmission, more positive tests, and more outbreaks.
The Orange-Protect tier includes new restrictions for select businesses including: bars, restaurants, food premises, meeting and event spaces; sports and recreational fitness activities; retail; personal care services; and cinemas, performing arts facilities, casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments. See www.Ontario.ca for a full list of all Orange-Restrict restrictions.
Cumulatively, there have been 495 COVID-19 cases in the Southwestern Public Health region, 55 per cent females and 45 per cent men. The leading categories of cases are 0-to-19-year-olds (18.3 per cent) and 40-to-49-year-olds (also 18.3 per cent).
The cumulative total number of cases in Aylmer is 109, 58 in St. Thomas, 10 in Dutton-Dunwich, nine in Central Elgin, three in Malahide, and one in Southwold.
The cumulative average COVID-19 incidence rate in the region is 28.4 cases per 100,000 population. The cumulative average incidence rate in Aylmer is 1,454.9 cases per 100,000; in St. Thomas it’s 149.1 cases per 100,000; in Dutton-Dunwich it’s 258.7 per 100,000; in Central Elgin it’s 71.4 per 100,000; in Malahide it’s 32.3 per 100,000; and in Southwold it’s 22.6 per 100,000.
Get the full regional picture at https://www.swpublichealth.ca/en/reports-and-statistics/covid-19-dashboard.aspx.