Health Unit Urges Residents To Practice COVID Protocols As Community Transmission Increases


In response to increasing community transmission of COVID-19, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health (MOH) sent an open letter today to businesses, organizations and residents within the County of Simcoe, the District of Muskoka and the Cities of Orillia and Barrie. A second letter was sent to the Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) at each municipality. Both letters are appealing to everyone in Simcoe Muskoka to continue to practice all public health measures to help reverse the increasing spread of COVID-19 in our area.

“We continue to see dramatic increases in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 throughout Simcoe Muskoka and these letters are a reminder that everyone in the community is required to protect each other from COVID-19, and to maintain and support our scarce health and public health resources,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, SMDHU’s Medical Officer of Health. “I recognize the hardships and fatigue you have all faced during this lengthy pandemic, and I sincerely appreciate the ongoing efforts of the residents, businesses, and organizations in Simcoe and Muskoka in protecting our communities. Together, we can reverse our increasing community transmission of COVID-19 and help usher in a safer holiday season ahead for our communities.”

The collective efforts of the Simcoe and Muskoka community are required to protect each other from COVID-19, and to maintain and support our scarce health and public health resources. This is particularly important during the holiday season and in the winter months, which is often a time of indoor gatherings and activities. Protective measures include:

  1. Getting vaccinated for whatever dose you are eligible for (first, second or third/booster). Vaccination is the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community and help us get back to the people and things we love.
  2. Wearing a mask or face covering that covers your mouth, nose and chin during any period when they are in the indoor area of the premises, unless exempt under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA) and associated regulations.
  3. For individuals who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, keeping gatherings to only those within their household, unless physical distancing is practised and/or face coverings are worn.
  4. For individuals who are fully vaccinated, keeping gatherings to a small number of people outside of their household. For the protection of all, preferably everyone should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
  5. For businesses that host people for holiday celebrations and activities, minimize capacity within indoor settings and given the higher degree of risk (e.g., removing masks for eating and drinking) recommend limiting capacity to the number of people who can maintain physical distancing of two metres
  6. Businesses and organizations should host holiday gatherings remotely to avoid larger groups of individuals congregating, that can assist in spreading the virus.
  7. Enabling remote work for employees, where reasonably possible, to reduce the number of workers exposed to the risk of transmission at the workplace.

If these collective efforts are not enough to stabilize or reverse the increasing transmission rate in Simcoe Muskoka the health unit may consider reinstating capacity limits that were lifted by the province in October.

Today’s letter to municipal leaders reminds and asks their diligence and follow up with staff in ensuring  adherence to the SMDHU November 23, 2021, letter of instruction to businesses and organizations along with the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) and Ontario Regulation 364/20. Current provincial and local requirements include:

  1. Conducting staff social gatherings remotely and avoiding gatherings of larger groups of people
  2. Ensuring COVID-19 safety plans are up-to-date and posted in conspicuous places,
  3. Enabling remote work for employees, where reasonably possible, to reduce the number of workers exposed to the risk of transmission at the workplace.
  4. Ensuring that any person in inside municipal offices/settings, including vehicles operating as part of municipal operations, wears a mask or face covering in a manner that covers their mouth, nose and chin, unless exempt under the ROA and associated regulations. This requirement includes ensuring that, where reasonably possible, physical distancing between workers by at least 2 metres takes place throughout the premises of the workplace, and during eating and rest periods (e.g., lunchrooms, change rooms).
  5. Ensuring that recreational facilities and staff are aware of the recently updated COVID-19 vaccination requirements for participants, volunteers, coaches and officials included in the letter of instruction associated with organized sports and recreational fitness issued on November 23.
  6. Notifying SMDHU if a municipality is aware of large community gatherings of any kind that exceed 500 persons to ensure that the event meets the requirements of the ROA and letters of instruction for businesses and organizations and recreational fitness and sports.

SMDHU reminds residents that in addition to the requirements listed above, it is essential to follow current public health measures, including staying home when feeling ill, maintaining a physical distance of at least 2 metres from those living outside of your household, wearing a mask indoors and outdoors when physical distancing is not possible, covering your cough, and washing your hands regularly.

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and current public health safety measures and requirements, visit


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