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Public health increases restrictions; personal/social gatherings limited to 10

In response to an alarming increase of COVID-19 cases and the emergence of the highly contagious Omicron variant of concern in Ontario, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is introducing additional restrictions.

“The number of cases in our region are increasing at a concerning rate, and with the holidays approaching, we must take further action now to protect our community and reduce strain on our critical health care resources,” said Dr. Ethan Toumishey, Acting Medical Officer of Health for HPEPH. “I am asking everyone to renew their commitment to preventing the spread – even if you are fully vaccinated. Stay home if you are sick. Avoid social gatherings and if you must gather, keep it small and keep your contacts consistent. Until everyone is vaccinated and gets their booster – these steps are critical to protect each other.”

Today, Dr. Toumishey issued a class order and letter of instruction, both of which take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 17.

Case investigations continue to show that private social gatherings are a key driver of the spread of COVID-19 in the region. Reducing indoor gathering limits in private dwellings is necessary to prevent illness and the spread of COVID-19. In accordance with the order:

– Indoor social gatherings in a private dwelling can not exceed 10 people, including residents of the private dwelling and gathering attendees (private dwelling includes houses, apartment buildings, condominium buildings and post-secondary student residences).
Individuals hosting an indoor social gathering in a private dwelling must maintain a list of guests and provide it to HPEPH within 12 hours of request for the purposes of COVID-19 case and contact tracing.

Individuals hosting an indoor social gathering in a private dwelling must provide HPEPH with other information regarding the social gathering as requested by HPEPH within 12 hours of the request for the purposes of COVID-19 case and contact tracing.

Social interaction in businesses and organizations have the potential to increase COVID-19 transmission, especially when staff and patrons are symptomatic and remove their mask.

Additional measures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission associated with interactions in businesses and organizations require that:

– Patrons wear a mask or face covering at all times, except to consume food or drink.
– Patrons remain seated at all times when consuming food or drink.
– Patron contact information is collected and provided to HPEPH within 12 hours of request, for the purposes of COVID-19 case and contact tracing.
– Staff, volunteer and third-party contractor attendance records are provided to HPEPH within 12 hours of request, for the purposes of COVID-19 case and contact tracing.
– Compliance with all other public health measures related to screening, physical distancing, use of personal protective equipment, and maintaining contact information of every member of the public who enters the facility is maintained.

The Letter of Instruction and Class Order will remain in effect until further notice and individuals who fail to comply may be liable for a fine of up to a maximum of $100,000.

Local business owners or operators who have questions about current regulations are invited to visit the public health COVID-19 Resources for Workplaces web page, complete our online form, or call 1-800-267-2803, ext. 677.

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  1. Vic Alyea says:

    I got my booster shot at Picton Community Centre yesterday. I took my wife to Lindsay last Thursday for hers. I can not say enough good things about the local team here. What a superb job of organization! I was in and out in about 25 minutes while in Lindsay my wife was over an hour getting hers. Well done County folks!If you are having trouble getting an appointment on-line try the phone number that is listed on the provincial site. I used it to get my wife an earlier appointment than her original January 31st date.

  2. Dennis Fox says:

    I’m unclear what people are concerned about – both my wife and I got our vaccines today in Picton – we did book our appointments a week or so ago online. From what I was told today, this is still the process. We don’t have a walk in clinic like other communities have – maybe this is the question to be asking?

  3. CountyProud says:

    So just spent 90 mins in a queue to find out there are still no planned appts available in Picton. Closest available was Kingston or Peterboro (not sure I want to book to drive that distance in the depth of winter and frankly Kingston doesn’t strike me as a safe place to be in crowds right now). For now I’ll crawl back under my rock and hide out from the world until PEC gets some vaccines.

  4. Graham Chapman says:

    Public Health have a duty of care to the citizens they serve. We cannot personally obtain vaccines they have to do so on our behalf. That is what we pay them for. If they cannot provide then let us know before they direct us to what they do not have. Communication manages expectation and is better than threats of fines to already struggling businesses and individuals.

  5. Dennis Fox says:

    There is not any problem and never has been a problem for Canada to procure vaccines. The Public Health Dept. does not have and never had the authority to move vaccines out of their area – as with all they do, Public Health comes under the provincial jurisdiction. I’m not sure where people are getting their information from, but they have a duty not to spread misinformation.

  6. Chuck says:

    Just to clarify it was Public Health that moved the vaccines to the hot spots. Premier Ford is following the Science. He has worked tirelessly for Ontarians.

  7. Bruce Nicholson says:

    Don’t forget that the procurement of vaccines is a federal government responsibility.

  8. Dennis Fox says:

    I have great respect for our Public Health Dept. They have a tough job in taking care of a very large geographic community. Don’t forget that the Province, during the last wave, re-directed 50% of the vaccines for this area to the larger “hot spots” and made us all wait for our second shots – things haven’t changed much. I really don’t believe that PEC places high on the provincial radar – then or now! Plus, they also cut back on Public Health staff just prior to the pandemic and they were never hired back. Don’t blame those who are left “holding the bag” – they have done a great job under these circumstances. Remember who is really to blame when we vote this June.

  9. Graham Chapman says:

    The provincial website closest appt for a booster is Campbellford 61km away but no timeslots for December. There are also no appts at local pharmacies. Once again, how can restrictions be initiated with guidelines directing us to the booster, but none are available. That is like the health unit directing people to a fire exit, but neglecting to tell them that they have not yet built the exit.

  10. Emily says:

    Large indoor family gatherings are very high risk. Relaxed distancing, no masking. Covid loves a party. There is fear that numbers will skyrocket after Christmas.

  11. Gary says:

    Family gatherings from folks coming in from outside the residence is high risk for Covid. Very close proximity, no masking and tons of aerosol germs. Much different than walking in a store masked. Visiting family members are no safer than strangers. Covid doesn’t make exceptions because one is related. Public Health is working to protect us not trying to be a grinch.

  12. Doug Robinson says:

    I want to thank the local public health for once again falling to get it right. We have spent the last year following all the appropriate measures and now once again have our Christmas destroyed while we continue to watch the rest of the province carry on. I can go eat in a restaurant with total strangers, stroll through the mall with loads of strangers, attend the hockey game with 300 other people, etc,etc, but heaven forbid I gather with my own family for Christmas. Shame on you . Time to start targeting the real issue. Have a Merry Christmas, hope your family is small.

  13. Dennis Fox says:

    I have to admit that I am not an expert on making appointments – but, about 2 weeks ago, my wife and I made appointments for Monday the 20th in Picton. But that was before this mad rush caused by Omicron – according to the provincial announcement yesterday, there should be enough vaccines to get everyone done quickly. I would contact our local public health and ask them for advice – people should not have to be wondering and worrying about this at this point in time – it is not that the system needs to be invented again.

  14. Mark says:

    You have an option of availabilty for different distances. For Belleville you would click within 50 km.

  15. Mark says:

    I went online at 3:00 pm today and Belleville showed Monday, Dec 20th wide open appointments all day. I picked my time and was confirmed. I also posted on facebook and I know another County person got booked.

  16. Jackie says:

    not sure where/how Mark says there are appts in belleville on dec 20, mine only says 11-16, nothing for Monday, 1st available is cobourg jan 24

  17. Gillian says:

    I have just gone onto the Provincial booking site, again, and the nearest vaccine available is still on Coburg. Where are you seeing the Belleville appointments?

  18. Mark says:

    Presently there are lots of appointments open in Belleville on Monday Dec 20th

  19. Douglas says:

    I can’t get a vaccine appt for a booster for anywhere between Kingston to Cobourg. Government planning needs to be a lot better.

  20. Graham Chapman says:

    (email to Dr Toumishey)
    Dear Dr Toumishey
    Below you will find a snip of our 4th attempt at trying to book the booster vaccine that you inform us we should all have. No appointments locally at all. Kingston and Cobourg maybe. My wife called the health unit yesterday to be told by customer service that there are no appointments because you have no vaccine. How can you impose more restrictions and dictate what we have to do when your own department cannot provide the service you are stating we need.
    We have been adhering to all the rules, lockdowns and cancellation of gatherings for the past two years. My business has suffered immensely and your guidelines are of no use if you are not going to at least first check on your resources before you dictate further action. This does not instill confidence in your leadership or the competence of your health unit.

  21. Tech2 says:

    Dr Ethan needs to focus on obtaining the boosters. It is impossible to get a booster as our local health unit says they have no vaccine. We cannot book any appointment and now more will be eligible for the shot from Monday.

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