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Capacity Limits Start Thursday for SWPH Townships With Low Vaccination Rates

Municipalities with vaccination rates under 80% for anyone 12+ in SWPH health region will have capacity limits reduced to 50% at most establishments and venues.

OXFORD/ELGIN/ST.THOMAS - Southwestern Public Health has announced new capacity limits in areas with high transmission of COVID-19. 

The capacity limits will require most establishments to operate at 50% capacity. The townships targeted weekly incidence rate of 80 cases per 100,000 people or greater and/or vaccination rates of fewer than 80% of 12+ fully vaccinated.

The following municipalities are currently impacted:

- Aylmer
- Bayham
- Blandford-Blenheim
- Malahide
- Norwich
- South-West Oxford
- Tillsonburg
- West Elgin

The new restrictions will come into effect this Thursday at 12:01 am and will remain in place for 6 weeks until Monday, January 10, 2022 at 12:01 am. 

Basically these areas will be going back to stage 3 of the Province's reopening plan. It includes the following. 

Meeting and Event Spaces: 

Must restrict the use of indoor spaces to 50% of the space capacity. Patrons seated at different tables must be physically distanced or separated by a barrier. Visible signage must indicate the capacity limits under which the establishment is permitted to operate.

Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments without dance facilities: 

The total number of patrons permitted to be seated indoors at the establishment must be limited to 50% capacity. Patrons seated at different tables must be physically distanced or separated by a
barrier. Visible signage must indicate the capacity limits under which the establishment is permitted to operate.

Personal care services: 

Even if the business has decided to require proof of vaccination to attend, the number of clients must be limited to 50% capacity. In addition, visible signage must indicate the capacity limits under which the establishment is permitted to operate.

Facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities: The total number of members of the public permitted to be in the indoor area of the facility at any one time must be limited to 50% capacity.

Indoor recreational amenities: 

The number of members of the public must be limited to 50% capacity. Visible signage must indicate the capacity limits under which the establishment is permitted to operate.

Concert venues, theatres, and cinemas: The number of members of the public at an indoor seated concert, event, performance or movie within the concert venue, theatre, or cinema (or in a particular room in the indoor portion of the seated concert, event, performance or movie) at any one time must be limited to 50% of the usual seating capacity. Visible signage must indicate the capacity limits under which the establishment is permitted to operate.

The Letter of Instruction also reduces gathering limits for weddings, funerals, and religious services where proof of vaccination is required. The capacity for these venues and events must be limited to 50% capacity. The Letter of Instruction does not amend the provincially set limits of 25 people for gathering indoors or 100 people for gathering outdoors, although individuals are strongly recommended to limit indoor gatherings for their own safety.

Local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Joyce Lock explains why they are making these difficult decisions. 

"For several weeks the cases in our region have risen steadily. Our test percent positivity, our number of cases per 100,000 people, and the pressure on our hospitals all indicate measures must be put into place to stem this rise. These high case counts are taxing local health care providers and disrupting both workplaces and schools." 

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