LONDON, ONT -- Medical Officer of Health Dr. Joyce Lock was surprised that Southwestern Public Health's (SWPH) region was not moved up in colour Friday.

"We thought we would be going into Red because our numbers are pointing in that direction," says Lock.

SWPH reported 31 cases Saturday, the third consecutive day with more than 30.

That move to a Red restriction could come after Monday's announcement by Premier Doug Ford.

St. Thomas Minor Hockey (STMHA) was ready to shut down all activities Sunday evening.

"We planned to shut down and pause the season for an extended break over Christmas," says Joe Doyle, STMHA president.

With the announcement to stay in colour Orange, we decided it’s best to give the kids an opportunity to continue on as long as possible. We will go up until Wednesday of next week. It's a small victory for us."

Doyle understands the reprieve may just be temporary.

"We are anticipating that things will change, but in the short term, let’s let the kids play as long as they can."

The delay is also a break for restaurant owners in a difficult year.

"It's nice to get a couple more days to enjoy it," says Rick Goddeeris, owner of the Upper Deck restaurant in St. Thomas.

"We don't want to have to go to takeout, and we'd like to keep the doors open. We have about 15 staff, and if we move up a zone, we might have to go to two people working. You don't want to lay people off, but you are going to have to."

Saturday morning SWPH has a grand total of 156 active cases.

Norwich Township leads the way with 28 cases, including two staff at Bethany Home.

It's one of five long-term care homes in the district with institutional outbreaks.

"We are doing more rounds of testing for COVID among staff and residents," says Lock.

"We hope to pick them up as early as possible. In some locations we have been restricting visitors as well, which is tough because we know how important visitors are to those residents."

Lock would like to thank everyone who plans to stick within their own household for gatherings this week.

"Buckle down, the vaccine is on the horizon," says Lock.

"Each of us can make a big difference by the way we behave and our choices this Christmas."

At the beginning of the pandemic, SWPH was among the best in the region in terms of case count. Now, with 73.8 ongoing confirmed cases per 100,000 population, it's the worst district east of Windsor and west of Waterloo.