What the red zone means for Middlesex-London
LONDON, ONT. -- As of Monday London and Middlesex County move from orange-intermediate measures to red-control level of COVID-19 restrictions.
Moving to the red level comes one week after the province was moved to the orange level. A number of new restrictions come to the region as a result of being moved into the red zone.
Some of the tighter restrictions included in a move from orange to red include:
- limits on organized public gatherings drop from 10 to five people indoors
- religious, wedding and funeral services at 30 per cent capacity
- maximum of 10 people indoors at restaurants, bars and event spaces with no dancing, singing or live music
- fitness studios can have 10 people indoors in exercise areas or classes and 25 outdoors
- no team sports except for training (no scrimmages)
- no athletic activities with individuals coming within two metres of each other
- maximum of 10 people seated in mall food courts
- retail stores must maintain two-metre distance between those in line
- all movie theatres and performing arts facilities are closed except for drive-ins
- Capacity on casinos can not exceed 10 people
Meanwhile, the new red-zone reality has impacted recreation programming with the City of London.
- team sports games or scrimmages are not permitted (training can continue)
- racquet sports involving more than 2 players are not permitted
- dressing rooms in arenas and change rooms in community centres will not be available
- public skating at arenas will be cancelled as of Dec. 14, and will open again as of Dec. 21, with new restrictions in place
- skating capacity at Victoria Park will be limited to 25 people at a time - skaters will enter the enclosed area at the start of the hour, and will be allowed to skate for 45 minutes, then all users will be asked to leave the ice allowing the next group to use ice on the hour
- Storybook skating drop-in programs will be cancelled as of Dec. 14, with a new schedule beginning on Dec. 18
Covent Garden Market ice rink on Dec. 14, 2020. (Jim Knight/CTV London)
On Friday, cellphone video captured by Dr. Ben Cowie, local business owner, shows more than 150 people circling the ice rink at a time.
“It just kind of shocked me, how many people were at the rink all at one, it's not what we’re supposed to be doing during a pandemic,” says Cowie.
The video which has garnered more than 8,000 views on Twitter, has sparked comments and questions from Londoners, with Cowie writing, “Is this what Code Red is supposed to look like?”
And other Twitter users commenting for Londoners “To do better.”
The video was taken during orange level restrictions, where the capacity limit for people who want ice time was set to 100.
— Dr. Ben Cowie (@bromptonymous) December 12, 2020
Medical officer of health for the Middlesex-London Health Unit Dr. Chris Mackie spoke with CTV News during a virtual press conference Monday, responding to the video.
“On the plus side, outdoor activities are relatively low risk. On the downside when you do have that many people together you certainly can see the risk accumulate.”
Mackie says that most people are wearing masks on the rink at all times out of precaution but adds that numbers can never reach that height again.
“Clearly we can’t see those skating risks with 150 people on them, it is not safe. I thought it was great that the city intervened to make sure the rink was wound down on Friday night when the numbers got too high.”
Now that the region has entered red-control zone, the amount of people allowed on an ice rink has been cut to 25.
London Mayor Ed Holder says public skating at arenas will be postponed until Dec. 21.
“Separately the skating capacity will be limited to 25 people at a time. Skaters will be allowed to skate for 45 minutes. At that time the users will be asked to leave the ice, allowing the next group to skate at the next hour,” says Holder.
At Victoria Park and at Covent Garden Market, the City of London has placed fencing and signage to make the public aware of new restrictions.
Lynn Loubert, division manager for Aquatics and Arenas for the City of London says that staff will be monitoring both arenas at all hours of operation.
“Staff will be on anytime we are open. They will be counting and making sure that a limited amount of people are on the ice."
Loubert says preparations were underway to accommodate red-control restrictions before the video surfaced on Friday.
“We did send supervisors to the rink on Friday to support the staff and then close down the rink.”
Loubert is encouraging mask use and distancing while on the ice. She adds that family members can skate next to each other because they are in the same bubble and household.
Tightened restrictions on ice rinks are just one new measure rolled out as part of red-control zone measures.
The following is how the new measures will affect the City Clerk's office:
- Return to appointment based services for marriage licenses, ceremonies. All other services (Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act requests, burial permits, bus tickets, passes, commissioner of oath, lottery, animal licenses, and general information) will continue to be available through walk-in.
- Civil marriage ceremonies will only be available to residents in London-Middlesex and areas that are not in a Red or Grey/Lockdown region.
- Attendance at civil ceremonies will be limited to the couple getting married and two witnesses, and those witnesses must not be coming from a health region that is in Red or Grey/Lockdown.
- Marriage licence requests will be by appointment only and licences will only be issued for people who are from London-Middlesex and areas that are not in Red or Grey/Lockdown.
- Pre-registration will be required for in-person Public Participation Meeting attendance to ensure capacity stays within the maximum permitted.
- The option to provide input remotely for Public Participation Meetings will continue.
- With files from CTV London's Brian Snider