The Middlesex-London Health Unit says its last remaining Section 22 Class Order, which placed COVID-19-related restrictions on indoor sports and recreational fitness activities, is now lifted.
The health unit says that the order is no longer required due to both the high vaccination rates in the region reducing the need for control measures and the new restrictions coming into effect through Step 3 of Ontario’s reopening plan, which comes into effect Friday.
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The order, issued in late October, covered all health and fitness facilities including community centres, multi-purpose facilities, arenas, dance studios and gyms. It required mandatory face coverings for fitness class instructors; a limit of 10 people per class, including staff; and a minimum three metre distance between participants or “impermeable barriers” separating people.
“The cooperation of our local fitness clubs and recreation facilities in complying with this Order has reduced the spread of COVID-19 and played a key role in the effort to fight the pandemic in London and Middlesex County,” says medical officer of health Dr. Chris Mackie.
“With the move to the next step of the Province’s reopening, we are grateful for the efforts of the fitness and recreation sector during the last nine months.”
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Under Step 3 of the province’s plan, which comes into effect Friday, indoor sports and recreational fitness facilities are able to operate at maximum 50 per cent capacity.
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Step 3 comes with numerous other loosened restrictions, including: allowing up to 25 people to gather indoors; opening concert venues, cinemas and theatres with a cap of up to the lesser of 50 per cent capacity or 1,000 people; and opening nightclubs and strip clubs with up to the lesser of 25 per cent capacity or 250 people.
Still, Mackie is cautioning that “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
“We know that gathering indoors remains a driver of spread. If you’ve got to do something indoors with people, then that is a possibility now, but really (we’re) still encouraging people to keep it outdoors as much as possible,” he said.
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Mackie added that the rate of COVID-19 among the region’s unvaccinated population is “something like 10 times higher” than it is among those who are vaccinated, possibly even higher.
Mayor Ed Holder also encouraged vaccination, stating that “ending this pandemic is no longer a hope or a dream, it’s now a choice.
“And the choice is, will you get your shot or not?”
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— with files from Global News’ Gabby Rodrigues and Nick Westoll.
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