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Region waits for direction from province before lifting capacity restrictions, proof of vaccination

If all goes well, capacity restrictions and proof of vaccination requirements will be gone March 1
2021-08-20-Hsiu-Li-Wang
Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the region's medical officer of health, said case rates and hospitalizations are in decline but people are still encouraged to get fully vaccinated.

Municipalities across Waterloo region will likely have to wait until early next week to hear the province's guidance on reopening recreational facilities and indoor public spaces. 

The City of Cambridge said it will be reviewing its regulations over the next couple of days and will have more details on impacts to service shortly.

Any changes at city facilities will still need direction from Public Health.

The region's top doctor told regional councillors Wednesday she expects to hear more specifics from the province closer to March 1, at which time municipalities will be directed to lift all capacity restrictions and proof of vaccination requirements at their facilities.

The delay comes despite the move last week by the City of Guelph to announce an end to its state of emergency and the lifting of all capacity restrictions and proof of vaccination requirements as of March 1.

The decision in Guelph was made in consultation with Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Nicola Mercer, as well as the city’s emergency operations control group.

Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said the region is holding off on a similar announcement until it hears from Ontario's chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore.

Earlier this month, Moore announced that as of March 1, "Ontario intends to take additional steps to ease public health measures if public health and health system indicators continue to improve."

Moore said the province will lift proof of vaccination requirements for all settings at that time, although businesses may choose to continue to require proof of vaccination. Masking requirements will remain in place for the time being.

The province is also giving municipalities the latitude to "deploy local and regional responses based on local context and conditions."

Wang said conditions are headed in the right direction in Waterloo region with the seven day moving average of new cases down to 9.1 per 100,000 and wastewater signals indicating we are past the peak of Omicron and in decline.

Wang said hospitalizations are still relatively elevated compared to previous waves due to the combination of COVID positive patients and the need to ramp up delayed surgeries and procedures. As of Wednesday, local hospitals had 50 COVID patients in their care and 14 in ICU.

"I request that residents be respectful and considerate of every different comfort level with the removal of measures that have been in place to protect us," she said.

A spokesperson for Cambridge Memorial Hospital said it will resume in-patient visits in the coming days although details of that announcement weren't immediately available.


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Doug Coxson

About the Author: Doug Coxson

Doug has been a reporter and editor for 25 years, working mainly in Waterloo region and Guelph
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