Grey-Bruce entering ‘modified’ Step 3 as COVID-19 cases surge

Grey-Bruce added another 36 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, leading Ontario in all the wrong categories.

“We have a concerning situation related to the surge of the Delta variant. The lSAT report from Public Health Ontario showed 99 per cent of our cases are Delta,” says the region’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Ian Arra.

Despite 183 active cases, and another 350 high risk contacts, Grey-Bruce joined the province in loosening COVID-19 restrictions Friday by entering Step 3 of the reopening plan.

But there’s a catch. Arra is “strongly recommending,” though not “ordering” some modifications, focused largely on private gatherings.

Firstly, he’s recommending outdoor gatherings in Grey-Bruce stay below 25 people and indoor gatherings remain at five people.

And he’s recommending people dine outdoors, even though the option exists to eat inside restaurants now.

He’s also recommending masks be worn at hair salons, and tgat churches, weddings, workplaces, gyms, cinemas and restaurants strictly follow public health measures.

“The public is fatigued. If you stay in Stage 2, you really are penalizing the people (who are) invested and the safe locations. Regulated settings have the same level of risk at this point, so we haven’t seen the spill-over in the workplace or in the organized events. It is mainly in private settings, related to parties,” says Arra.

Arra says the “strong recommendations” won’t be revoked until Grey-Bruce’s COVID-19 surge subsides, or until the majority of 12-35-year-olds are double vaccinated.

He says targeted vaccinations will be the next tool used to reach more people.

“Mobile units at gyms, hockey games, anywhere to make it easier for the public to get the vaccine.”

Arra says the vast majority of Grey-Bruce’s new cases are in the unvaccinated. As an example, of the Saugeen First Nation’s 111 cases since late June, 105 were totally unvaccinated, he says.

“It is anybody who is living in Grey-Bruce without two doses of vaccine (who) is at higher risk of disease and severe complications,” he says.

If cases continue to rise, Arra says he’ll have no choice but to turn his “strong recommendations” into regulatory orders, forcing more intrusive measures on those not following the COVID-19 rules in Grey-Bruce.

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