Kingston places new restrictions on restaurants for one week

Kingston, Ont. has introduced a week’s worth of new restrictions aimed at curbing the city’s alarming COVID-19 infection rate.

The city is limiting gatherings to a maximum of five people and enforcing new measures on restaurants in response to the spread of the Omicron variant.

Introduced with just hours’ notice and effective December 13 at 6 p.m. until December 20, restaurants must now close to indoor dining between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., not sell or serve alcohol after 9 p.m., ensure all patrons are seated when served, seat no more than four people at a table, and not allow dancing, singing, or live music.

Failure to comply with these new restrictions can result in fines of up to $5,000 for every day or part of a day on which the offence occurs or continues.

These measures are in response to case numbers that are rising at an alarming rate. Community spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been confirmed in the region, which is currently seeing its highest collective case count during all of the pandemic. The health unit announced Monday afternoon that the region has 908 active COVID-19 cases, up from 618 on Friday. 263 of those have been identified as suspected cases of the Omicron variant, which must be confirmed through genetic testing.

Overall, the region has seen 350.3 new cases per 100,000 population in the last seven days. For comparison, Ottawa has seen 56.4 cases per 100,000 population in the last seven days, while Toronto’s weekly incidence rate is 29.5 per 100,000.

The Kingston Health Sciences Centre says it has the highest number of intensive care COVID-19 patients in the province.

“Cases are increasing at a concerning rate and it is clear we must take further action to protect our community,” said Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health at KFL&A Public Health.

“We are issuing this class order and asking everyone to adhere to these social gathering limitations. We have come so far, and as we provide increasing immunity to our community through immunization, we must all be vigilant and keep our community safe. We all have a responsibility to adhere to public health measures — monitor for symptoms, stay home when ill, reduce social contacts, and avoid social gatherings.”

Oglaza said the order is a stop-gap for further restrictions that should be expected down the line and will be outlined through a letter of instruction.

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