Spike in COVID-19 cases forces new restrictions

Because of higher-than-average rates of COVID-19 transmission, the provincial government has imposed modified Stage 2 restrictions on York Region that will result in numerous closures in the City of Markham – including fitness centres and indoor cinemas – for at least 28 days.

According to numbers released on Friday, Oct. 16, there are 606 active cases of COVID-19, 147 of which are in Markham. Hospitalizations here have steadily increased and overall daily infections are exceeding levels at the peak of the first wave of the novel coronavirus in April and May, the City reports. 

Beginning Monday, Oct. 19 at 12:01 a.m., Markham will close its fitness centre locations and suspend in-person fitness classes. Team sports using city facilities will be limited to training and drills; no scrimmages or competitive play are allowed.  Public and lane swimming, as well as swimming lessons, will continue but with limited participation numbers and by pre-booking. No spectators will be allowed. Outdoor basketball courts, baseball diamonds, pitches and football fields remain available for training and practice only.

All social gatherings and organized public events will also be reduced to a maximum of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors where physical distancing can be maintained. The two limits cannot be combined for an indoor-outdoor event. Indoor service at restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, including nightclubs and food court areas in malls, is banned.

Indoor gyms and fitness centres, such as yoga studios, dance studios, exercise classes and weight/exercise rooms will be closed, along with casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments, and spectator areas in racing venues. Indoor cinemas, performing arts centres and venues will close, except when rehearsing or performing a recorded or broadcasted performance and subject to conditions that include no spectators. Interactive exhibits or exhibits with high risk of personal contact in places like museums, galleries, zoos, science centres and landmarks will also shut their doors.

Any personal care services that require the removal of face coverings, such as makeup application and beard trimming, are prohibited. Real estate open houses are also prohibited. In-person teaching and instruction, such as a cooking class, is being reduced to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. Exceptions continue for schools, universities, colleges of applied arts and technology, and private career colleges. Schools, child-care centres and places of worship will remain open and must continue to follow public health measures. Before- and after-school programs will also continue to be exempt from new restrictions and will remain open.

Residents are urged to limit trips outside of the home, not to travel to other regions for fitness or team play. Visit www.markham.ca/programs to see what outdoor, in-person and virtual programming is currently available. For more information and updates about COVID-19 and affected City services, visit www.markham.ca/covid19. Visit www.markham.ca/CovidSafety to find out how you can help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus and consider downloading COVID Alert, Canada’s free exposure notification app.

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