People attending large gatherings in London last week may have travelled to parties in Waterloo Region, according to public health officials.
In the past week, London has reported eight new COVID-19 cases all related to two parties of more than 10 people. The six women and two men who have tested positive for the virus are all in their 20s.
Contact tracing by the local health unit shows some of the people associated with the outbreak also went to events in Waterloo Region and Hamilton, according to Middlesex-London Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie.
Health officials say they’re following up with anyone who’s had close contact with the people who tested positive.
“The super-spreader events are something we really want to pay attention to and look closely at,” Dr. Mackie said.
The Middlesex-London Health Unit reported three new COVID-19 cases on Monday. Two of those cases are linked to these events.
Region of Waterloo Public Health reported one new death related to COVID-19 on Monday, the first in more than three weeks. A total of 116 people have died from COVID-19 in the region.
Officials also reported 13 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 since Friday, bringing the total to 1,293 in the region.
With files from CTV News London’s Amanda Taccone.
St. Catharines adopts mandatory mask bylaw for COVID-19 – StCatharinesStandard.ca
St. Catharines has become the first Niagara municipality to enact a mandatory mask bylaw for indoor public spaces from elevators to bingo halls in an effort to curb COVID-19.
Councillors questioned Niagara’s acting medical officer of health Mustafa Hirji at length about the effectiveness of masks before voting unanimously Monday night to adopt a draft bylaw that affects most people over the age of 10.
Mayor Walter Sendzik said the city doesn’t want to be a community that has to go backwards into lockdown because COVID-19 complacency set in.
“If this keeps us moving forward and not having to step back into Stage 2 or 1 when we get out of Stage 2, I think that will be for the benefit of everybody,” said Sendzik, adding he understands the frustrations of those opposed to the bylaw.
“These are difficult decisions. We’ve all got the influx of emails and text messages and phone calls and everything else associated with it, but at the end of the day we all want to do what’s best for our community long term.”
The start date of the bylaw will be determined by the city’s CAO and mayor in consultation with the acting medical officer of health.
CAO Shelley Chemnitz said she’ll be meeting with Hirji to determine what the metrics will be to choose a date. The city’s communications staff and senior staff will work on a public education campaign and signage to support businesses and operators.
“It’s not that we have to come down hard on people for not doing things, but rather that we’re working together with them to all be successful,” she said.
Sendzik said realistically, the bylaw could be put into effect Tuesday if they want, but the education piece might take two or three weeks to fully implement in the community.
The bylaw adopted isn’t relying on mask police.
City solicitor Heather Salter said the enforcement is effectively through education and voluntary compliance. Business operators are required to have a policy in place but they are not required to enforce the policy or to prohibit entry. They are empowered by the bylaw to do so.
“This is the least restrictive type of bylaw. It doesn’t require the business operator to have somebody at the door who’s going to challenge people coming in without a mask,” she said.
“It really is a voluntary compliance situation with respect to the individuals.”
Other areas that have the same type of bylaw or rules directed at operators include Toronto, York, Ottawa and Simcoe-Muskoka.
Places like Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph and Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington have a similar rule but require operators to prohibit people from entering without masks.
The St. Catharines bylaw exempts people with medical conditions that inhibit their ability to wear a mask, people unable to apply or remove a mask without assistance, people who have protections under the human rights code that would prevent them from wearing a mask and people accommodating someone with a hearing disability.
Children 10 and under will be exempt, after a request by Merritton Coun. Lori Littleton that the age be raised from the draft bylaw’s age of two.
Individuals who claim an exemption are not required to provide proof of the exemption to protect their privacy.
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The rules affect any indoor place where the public gathers, including grocery stores, shopping malls, places of worship, libraries, bingo halls, hotel common areas and city-owned facilities, among others.
It does not include day cares, schools, public transportation, hospitals and health facilities and provincial and federal government buildings.
The bylaw states that anyone who contravenes any provision of the bylaw is guilty of an offence and upon conviction is libel to a fine, and other penalties in the provincial offences act.
St. Catharines held a special meeting of council on July 6 and directed staff to draft the temporary bylaw and request that Hirji attend Monday’s meeting.
Hirji has not issued a region-wide order to wear masks like some other Ontario public health heads have done, instead saying it is up to the politicians to make those type of rules.
He told councillors Monday that the research up until March said masks didn’t work, but that was based on influenza-like illnesses, not on COVID-19. Over the last three months or so, he said there has been research saying that unlike other respiratory viruses, face coverings may have an impact with COVID-19.
Hirji said most public health expert bodies are now recommending people wear face coverings when physical distancing is not possible.
When asked why council should introduce a bylaw now — Niagara is only seeing about two new cases of COVID-19 a day — Hirji said the province is starting to lift the restrictions in society that forced people to have distance from each other.
“The impetus for keeping ourselves safe from COVID-19 is more and more falling in our own personal responsibility,” he said, adding people need to be more vigilant than ever about keeping physical distance, washing hands, wearing face coverings when distance can’t be kept and getting tested if they have symptoms.
How long St. Catharines will keep a mask bylaw in place isn’t known.
Hirji said the only logical time to back off wearing face coverings is if there’s new research showing it’s not as effective as previously thought or there comes a point where there’s an effective vaccine.
“What we’re really trying to do is set a new social norm here that we’re going to live with for a year or two years, perhaps longer, hopefully not.”
St. Catharines Council passes mandatory mask bylaw for enclosed public spaces – Newstalk 610 CKTB (iHeartRadio)
St. Catharines council has passed a bylaw making it mandatory to wear a mask in enclosed spaces where physical distancing is not possible.
The bylaw passed unanimously after a lengthy discussion with Niagara Region’s Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Mustafa Hirji, where Hirji explained the science behind how masks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 when physical distancing is impossible.
When asked how the bylaw will be enforced, the city says it is up to individual businesses to enforce the policy, or choose not to.
From the bylaw:
These measures are directed at the
operators of enclosed public spaces who are required to adopt a policy that prohibits
persons to enter or otherwise remain in the enclosed public space unless that person is
wearing a mask, subject to exemptions for specific individuals.
The operator is not required to enforce the policy or to refuse entry to anyone without a
mask; however, they are empowered by the bylaw to do so. Without a bylaw in place
some private businesses have already implemented some form of mask policy for their
Businesses will also be required to provide hand sanitizer to customers upon entry.
Children under 10 will not be required to wear a mask.
You can read the bylaw on the city’s website, or by clicking here.
Kelowna’s mayor responds to COVID-19 cluster outbreak – Globalnews.ca
Kelowna’s mayor is reminding people to physically distance and take other necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 after 13 cases have been connected to a city’s cluster.
“The province has not implemented travel restrictions within Canada, so we know people are going to come to Kelowna,” Kelowna mayor Colin Basran said in a statement.
However, he also noted that B.C.’s top doctor has asked people to use their travel manners and respect physical distancing rules and proper hygiene orders.
“Knowing that people are going to come to Kelowna on vacation, the city has helped local businesses comply with public health orders and WorkSafe BC requirements by expanding commercial space onto sidewalks and streets in business centres so that safe physical distancing can be maintained,” Basran said.
Bylaw officers and RCMP bike patrols are also visiting parks and beaches to educate people about physical distancing, he added.
Basran also noted provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said that outdoor activities with adequate physical distancing are permitted.
“She has also said that if people can’t maintain the level of responsibility that helped us have one of the best responses to limit COVID transmission in North America, then we may need to go back to the Phase 2 level of public health orders,” Basran warned.
“We need to remain vigilant, because we’ve seen how quickly a few lapses in judgment can turn into a serious problem.
“It’s my hope that with everyone doing their part, we all can enjoy Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley — just two metres apart,” he said.
Kelowna businesses react after locations identified as possible COVID-19 exposure sites
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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