The County of Haliburton is going back into a shutdown alongside the rest of the province April 3 for four weeks.

Premier Doug Ford announced the move April 1 in response to rising cases of COVID-19 cases and people going into intensive care units. Measures include: prohibiting indoor organized events; limiting outdoor public events or social gatherings to five people except within the same household; implementing a 50-per cent capacity for food stores and 25 per cent for all other retail; prohibiting personal care services; closing all restaurants except for takeout and drive-through; prohibiting the use of sports facilities with limited exceptions and requiring day camps close.

“We are facing a serious situation and drastic measures are required to contain the rapid spread of the virus, especially the new variants of concern,” Ford said.

The province said case rates rose 7.7 per cent between March 26 to 28, to 101.1 cases per 100,000 people. ICU admissions are over the peak of the second wave and are projected to exceed 650 beds in a few weeks. The province said the rise is driven by more infectious COVID variants.

Other measures include limiting capacity at weddings, funerals and religious ceremonies to 15 per cent indoors. Museums and cultural amenities, theatres will also close. However, schools will remain open, with spring break still planned to happen April 12. Childcare spaces will also remain open during the shutdown.

Minister of Health Christine Elliott said the province wanted to avoid the same stay-at-home order from Dec. 26 due to mental health harms. She said the province wanted to encourage people to enjoy the outdoors while still following public health protocols.

“Implementing a province-wide emergency brake was not an easy decision to make and is not one we take lightly,” Elliott said. “As we continue to vaccinate more Ontarians, the end is in sight, but right now these necessary measures will help to stop the spread of variants.”

Vaccinations ongoing

Government officials say the local region will continue to receive a steady supply of vaccines in the coming weeks.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit has received 26,910 Pfizer vaccines and 4,800 Moderna vaccines to date, with more than 28,000 doses administered.

Another 11,700 Pfizer and 5,900 Moderna doses are expected from April 5 to April 12.

Haliburton’s COVID vaccination clinic at the Haliburton Highlands Health Centre has closed. Acting medical officer of health Dr. Ian Gemmill said mass vaccination centres will open at the S.G. Nesbitt Arena in Minden April 6 and A.J. LaRue Arena in Haliburton April 12. Appointments are available for anyone 70 and older.

To book a vaccine, use or call 1-888-999-6488.

Region remains steady on cases

Haliburton County has one new COVID-19 case April 1, the only confirmed active case.

Colour-coded restrictions are on hold during the shutdown. The district was in a yellow zone under the provincial COVID-19 response framework, the second-least restrictive. Gemmill said that was probably correct based on the local data.

“I’m hearing people say the pandemic is out of control in some parts of Ontario, it’s not true here,” Gemmill said. “But I still want to reinforce over and over again anything can happen.”

He said people need to understand the importance of the measures – and that just because vaccinations are starting, does not mean people can be lax.

“One dose of vaccine, it’s a great first step, but it doesn’t mean we necessarily got the population base protection. We got to get enough people immunized to do that,” he said.

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