Ontario not ruling out adding to hot zones if asked by medical officer of health

Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams speaks to reporters on Friday, Oct. 2, 2020. Williams says he won't rule out adding other regions into the hot zones of Ottawa, Toronto and Peel if they are asked by local medical officers of health and backed by scientific data. (YouTube/Premier of Ontario via Newswatch Group)

CORNWALL – Ontario’s chief medical officer of health is not ruling out adding other regions of Ontario into the new COVID-19 restrictions announced Friday for Ottawa, Peel and Toronto if they’re requested by local medical officers of health.

But Dr. David Williams says they have to be driven by data.

“We’ve also asked them (medical officers of health) to say if there’s data and information that you think you should be considered in there and again we said it’s data driven and to give that information because we need that to advise the minister and up into the premier and cabinet if there’s further changes accordingly,” Dr. David Williams told reporters Friday.

“If they are interested and they feel it’s necessary, that they have some information as well as data and statistics to show why they would need to move into that area. Our Public Health Measures Table would look at that,” he said.

Williams says his team advised all the medical officers of health of the changes.

The province announced tightening of the rules for bars, restaurants, gyms and health clubs in Ottawa, Toronto and Peel. They include a maximum capacity of 100 people in bars and restaurants with table seating limits of six. Gym exercise classes are limited to 10 and a maximum of 50 in the facility. Banquet halls and event facilities have a cap of 50 people indoors. Those changes take effect Saturday at 12:01 a.m.

Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, the medical officer of health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit and also a member of the Public Health Measures Table, has long been an advocate of following Ottawa restrictions based on the area’s proximity to the capital.

Asked about a possible rollback to Stage 2 in Ottawa, Roumeliotis told reporters Thursday that he would “consider strongly” to be included if there were rollbacks in restrictions.

“A lot of what we’re seeing in Ottawa spills over into our area and I can also tell you that among the top 30 regions in Ontario that are having increase in cases and progression of those numbers, we are actually in the top 30 of several hundred regions,” he said.

Roumeliotis and the medical officers of health for Ottawa, Leeds-Grenville-Lanark and Renfrew came to an agreement earlier this summer on a masking policy.

An email from Cornwall Newswatch Friday to Roumeliotis’ office requesting comment was not immediately returned.