LONDON, ONT. -- Relief may be on the horizon for pandemic-weary residents of London and Middlesex County.

Declining daily case counts of COVID-19 will likely justify a further loosening of pandemic restrictions next week.

“We continue to see a downward trend in our case counts, and it seems very likely that as a result we will have earned the right to enter a less restrictive tier by this time next week,” said Mayor Ed Holder during Monday’s regularly scheduled media briefing on the pandemic..

When Ontario’s stay-at-home order expired two weeks ago, the province placed London and Middlesex County into the red-control category. It’s the second most restrictive category in the framework.

More than a week after the last COVID-related death, and with daily case counts frequently in the single-digits, Middlesex-London Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie suggests the region may leapfrog the orange-restrict category and move into yellow-protect next week.

“According to the provincial framework, it would likely put us in yellow,” explained Mackie during the media briefing.

A link to yellow-protect restrictions can be found here.

The province sets the colour category for each health unit.

The medical officer of health warned, however, that it is no time for people to let down their guards.

“Of course things can change over the next couple of days,” added Mackie. “We know variants of concern are on the horizon. They are the one X factor now.”

The province will announce next week’s restriction zone on Friday.

The changes would take effect next Monday.