New COVID-19 cases in Canada, Ontario, Peel Region, and the City of Mississauga continue to escalate. New cases in Ontario have averaged over 1000 per day over the past 10 days (double that at the height of the first wave) and have been roughly 20-30% higher for each of the past 3 days. Of greater concern is that deaths have averaged over 13 per day over the past week, and hospitalizations are increasing.
A major contributor to this rise in cases has been Peel Region. Although to date, cases in Brampton have dominated the rise in Peel numbers, new cases in Mississauga have accelerated dramatically over the past month. On Friday, the Ontario Government moved Peel Region into the Red – Control stage of the provincial Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework. On Saturday, Dr. Lawrence Loh, Medical Officer of Health for the Region of Peel, issued directives to the community that are stricter than those required for the Red – Control stage. These directives have been introduced because indicators that track the pandemic in Peel are trending in the wrong direction. Case counts and test positivity rates remain high, public health capacity is stretched thin, and hospitals are at capacity with some procedures cancelled.
The measures in the directive are effective Nov. 9, 2020, unless otherwise noted. They will remain in effect until further notice, except where noted, and will be re-evaluated every 14 days as the pandemic picture evolves. Of specific interest to us is that:
- Religious services, rites or ceremonies should be virtual. When not possible, in-person religious events, including weddings and funerals, must:
- Reduce indoor capacity to 30% capacity to a maximum 50 people per facility.
- Seat households and essential supports together, at least 2 metres from other groups.
Because we have the capability of holding services virtually, it is difficult to say we can not do so. For this reason, the Church Reopening Committee has decided that beginning Sunday November 15th we will revert again to virtual-only services. This is very disappointing to all of us. We truly feel that we have been able to safely worship in person over the past month, but from the beginning, we have said that the health and safety of the congregation was paramount and that we would base our decisions on the Public Heath directives. We will continue to monitor the situation and will update you again as new information becomes available.
Bill Powell for the Reopening Committee