KFL&A Public Health expands list of restrictions amid surge in COVID-19 cases

Editor’s note: This story has been changed to reflect that only retailers where patrons are permitted to test drive any vehicle, boat or watercraft are required to actively screen under the health unit’s new requirements. 

Kingston-area public health officials are implementing new restrictions in an effort to curb the number of COVID-19 cases in the region.

The ‘Letter of Instruction‘ issued by public health outlines several new guidelines for businesses to adhere to. They include requiring any establishment to ask patrons to complete the COVID-19 screening tool, similar to those used by schools. The same guideline applies to staff.

“Active screening is really one of the most important measures here,” Dr. Piotr Oglaza said. “We’ve seen, unfortunately, a number of outbreaks in clusters where there would be one, or sometimes even more symptomatic people in attendance.”

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Also in the letter of instruction, patrons can only remove their masks when consuming food or a beverage and must be seated when doing so.

Oglaza says the reason public settings such as restaurants are being targeted is that their investigations indicate large clusters of cases are popping up there.

“It’s the pattern of social interactions that we see in some of these settings where individuals without masks where eating and drinking might be in close proximity,” Oglaza said.

The new guidelines go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday Dec. 11, and apply to all public spaces with the exception of grocery stores, government services and health care facilities.

Here’s a full list of organizations and businesses that will have to implement active screening of patrons starting Saturday:

  • meeting or event spaces
  • restaurants
  • personal care services
  • personal physical fitness trainers
  • businesses that provide teaching and instruction
  • sports and recreational fitness facilities
  • indoor photography studios
  • casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
  • driving instruction
  • retailers where patrons are permitted to test drive any vehicle, boat or watercraft

“Social interaction in businesses and organizations have the potential to increase COVID-19 transmission, especially when staff and patrons are symptomatic and remove their mask,” said Dr. Piotr Oglaza. “This letter of instruction adds protection against the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

The region has seen a surge in cases of late, recently reaching a triple-digit daily case count increase, and active cases well over 400.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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