The province is easing restrictions in the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (HKPR) District Health Unit as it is set to become a “Yellow” region under the province’s COVID-19 framework as of March 8.

The colour is the second-lowest in the five-colour framework, one level below the “Orange” level the district is currently under. Changes include lifting the 50-person capacity limit for restaurants and personal care services requiring face-covering removal resuming.

HKPR acting medical officer of health Dr. Ian Gemmill said it is a nice reward for declining COVID-rates in the region. The district’s 7-day case average has dipped from 19.1 per 100,000 residents Feb. 19 to 9.5 per 100,000 residents March 5.

“We’ve had a significant decrease in COVID-19 cases over the last two-week period, so that’s great news to be rewarded,” Gemmill said. “That said, I want to urge people not to let their guard down and continue taking COVID-19 precautions because the situation could quickly change.”

As of March 4, Haliburton has had no new cases since Feb. 9.

Gemmill said caution is still necessary. COVID variants that spread more easily are becoming increasingly prevalent, and make up one-quarter of all new cases detected in the region over the last two weeks.

“We may be open for business, but we can’t assume it’s business as usual,” Gemmill said. “Until more people are vaccinated and we can get COVID-19 under full control, we must continue doing all we can to stop the spread.”

Gemmill advises to stay home as often as possible, wear masks and limit social gatherings and travel.

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