LONDON, ONT -- Middlesex-London is now officially in the orange-restrict level under Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework.

The region is one of three to move into a higher level.

The move was announced Friday following recent spikes in cases largely tied to ongoing outbreaks at London Health Sciences Centre’s University Hospital.

The orange level includes all restrictions already in place under yellow, but includes tighter rules for some businesses.

For example hair salons and barber shops can no longer provide any service that requires the removal of a mask, meaning no shaves or beard trims.

Other additional restrictions include:

  • 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., screen all patrons
  • Strip clubs must close to operate only as a restaurant or bar
  • Sports/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

A full list of regulations can be found here.

London region could soon move to red-control

While the move to yellow just took effect, health officials say that if things continue as they are with high levels of community spread, additional restrictions could be coming.

Middlesex-London Health Unit Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie says, “We have reached a critical juncture, with COVID-19. Today once again we are breaking new records from a perspective of case counts. There are more people with COVID in our community right now than ever before.”

While there are multiple criteria involved in the decision, including percent positivity of testing and health care capacity, London has already reached one benchmark recently, a weekly incidence rate of 40 cases per 100,000 people.

And with just weeks until the holidays, London Mayor Ed Holder says more restrictions could be disastrous, “I would say to you the impact on individuals, recreational activities and business will be substantial.”

He added that compliance in businesses has been exceptionally high, but over the weekend dozens still needed to be reminded to wear their masks properly, and he is fed up with those refusing to follow guidelines.

Any decision on a move to a higher level of restrictions would be in effect for 28 days.

For those who, despite everything, are still planning to visit others over the holidays, Mackie suggested self-quarantining for two weeks prior to visiting.

“Minimize any interactions with anyone to reduce the risk that you are picking up COVID, and bringing home something to a loved one that is not the kind of gift you want to be giving at the holliday season.”

- With files from CTV London's Marek Sutherland