MIDDLESEX CENTRE, ONT. -- The Middlesex-London region joining its neighbours in Elgin, Oxford, Huron and Perth counties in the orange-restrict level under Ontario's COVID-19 response framework.

The province updated the region's status on Friday afternoon following a spike in cases largely tied to ongoing outbreaks at the London Health Sciences Centre's University Hospital. It was one of three regions to move into a higher level.

In a statement, Health Minister Christine Elliott said, "Over the last seven days we have seen the trends in key public health indicators continue to go in the wrong direction in these three regions...By taking proactive action and moving these regions to a higher level in the framework, we are helping them to reduce transmission in the community and avoid broader closures."

The orange level includes all restrictions already in place under the yellow-protect level, as well as tighter rules for some businesses.

Among the additional restrictions that come with the higher level are:

  • restaurants, bars and event spaces can seat a maximum of 50 patrons indoors, maximum of four people per table, stop serving alcohol at 9 p.m., close by 10 p.m., and screen all patrons
  • strip clubs must close or operate only as a restaurant or bar
  • sports and fitness facilities can have a maximum of 50 people in weight/exercise areas and classes, patrons must be screened, patrons can only be in a facility for 90 minutes unless engaged in sport and no spectators except parents/guardians
  • retail stores must now screen patrons
  • personal care services must halt services requiring the removal of face coverings, most bath houses/sensory deprivation pods closed, screening of patrons required

Local businesses say they are bracing for the changes, and trying to adapt as quickly as they can.

A full list of regulations is available here.

- With files from CTV News Toronto