Grey-Bruce facilities begin closing for provincial shutdown

Article content

Many facilities around Grey-Bruce have begun closing for the expected 28-day provincial COVID-19 shutdown.

Owen Sound announced on Thursday that the Julie McArthur Regional Recreation Centre would be closed as of midnight on Friday. Owen Sound Minor Hockey coaches were notifying players that their season would be ending about two weeks earlier than had been scheduled. The organization had opted to go with two seasons this year because of the pandemic, with the second season starting in late February following the last provincewide lockdown.

The Owen Sound Girls Hockey program made its practice ice times on Thursday and Friday optional and cancelled the remaining ice times moving forward, ending their 2020-21 season.

“It was not the season for which we had all hoped but under the circumstances I believe overall it was a success,” Owen Sound Girls Hockey President Paul Osadzuk said in a statement on the organization’s website.

Advertisement

Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

The Family Y notified members on Thursday that it would be closing its health, fitness and aquatics centre for Good Friday and remain closed during the shutdown period between Saturday and May 1.

“While it is disappointing to be temporarily closing our facility again, we are hopeful that this upcoming shutdown will prove successful at reducing the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and the province,” it said in a statement.

The city also closed the Harry Lumley Bayshore Communty Centre, ending the walking program there. The Lumley-Bayshore continues to serve as a vaccination hub.

Owen Sound city hall will remain open for the shutdown with a maximum visitor capacity of five people.

City parks and trails will remain open for recreational activity as long as physical distancing is maintained, the city said.

The Tom Thomson Art Gallery is closed to in-person visits with exhibitions and programming available through the gallery’s digital portal at tomthomsonartgallery.wixsite.com/digitalportal

In Georgian Bluffs, the shutdown means all township recreational facilities, including the Shallow Lake Community Centre, were closing for public use. The township had extended its ice season at Shallow Lake by a month until the end of April.

Those with facility rentals are asked to contact facilities staff for cancellations and associated fee refunds.

The township administration offices will continue to be open for collection of payments and appointments with staff only.

Advertisement

Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Grey County’s offices are closed to the public and services will be delivered electronically by phone, e-mail and video calls.

In Bruce County, the administration building will be closed with customer service still available online and over the phone.

Bruce County Library branches will be open for curbside pickup only until May 3, while the Bruce County museum in Southampton is also closed until then.

The county’s trails and river access points will remain open, but trail buildings are closed and the public is being asked to follow provincial health and safety measures.

EarlyON Child and Family Centre locations in Bruce County are closed to the public until May 3.

“Bruce County council and staff continue to work hard to protect the best interests of the region while continuing to successfully deliver county services,” Bruce County Warden Janice Jackson said in a news release. “We are committed to ensuring the health and well-being of the citizens in our region. We encourage everyone to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home and exercising the 3 W’s – wash your hands, watch your distance (6 feet), and wear your face covering correctly.”

The Ontario government implemented the shutdown due to surging COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations across the province.

Grey-Bruce had been in the least restrictive green zone of the province’s colour-coded COVID-19 response framework, but was anticipated to move to yellow due to increasing numbers locally. But with the emergency brake implemented for the entire province, it saw a number of new measures put in place to slow the spread of the virus.

Advertisement

Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

As of midnight Friday, organized public events and social gatherings are prohibited indoors, while outdoor gatherings are limited to a five-person maximum except for members of the same household.

In-person shopping has been restricted to 50 per cent capacity for stores that sell essential goods, and 25 per cent for all other retail stores.

Personal care services are prohibited, while indoor and outdoor dining is prohibited at restaurants, which are still permitted to do takeout, drive-through and delivery.

Day camps are to close, as are fitness facilities, gyms and arenas to both indoor and outdoor sports.

Weddings, funerals, religious services and other ceremonies are limited to 15 per cent occupancy per room indoors, while social gatherings associated with the events – such as receptions – are prohibited indoors and limited to five people outdoors.

The Ontario government said schools would continue to remain open during the shutdown.

Both the Bluewater District School Board and Bruce Grey Catholic District School Board issued letters to parents on Thursday.

Child-care centres and before and after programs in Bluewater schools will also remain open. The April break scheduled for April 10-18 was to continue as normal.

“Ensuring the continuation of in-person learning is a priority when it comes to the mental health and well-being of our students,” Bluewater Director of Education Lori Wilder said in the letter. “As always, should anything change regarding the status of our schools as per provincial and public health direction, we will let you know accordingly.”

Advertisement

Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

BGCDS director of education Gary O’Donnell wrote there had been some speculation about a period pf school closure and move to remote learning, but confirmed classes would continue on Tuesday after the Easter weekend.

But O’Donnell added the board was preparing if it has to move to remote learning after the April spring break.

“We will be encouraging students to take home essential materials in advance to be prepared for any future announcements,” O’Donnell said in the letter. “This continues to be a precautionary measure only and is not intended to add to the speculation or create any unnecessary worry.”

The board will continue to update parents on new developments, the letter said.

All staff and families were also being “strongly” encouraged to follow all COVID-19 safety requirements by adhering to public safety rules, avoiding unnecessary travel and continuing daily self-screening to ensure a safe return to school.

“Our student and staff have worked very hard these past months and the opportunity for a much-needed break has arrived,” O’Donnell said.

* * *

For the second straight day, the Grey Bruce Health Unit reported seven new cases of COVID-19.

The new case included one each in the Blue Mountains, Kincardine, South Bruce Peninsula, Hanover, Chatsworth, Brockton and Arran-Elderslie. One case from Grey-Bruce was transferred for Toronto Public Health, according to the Grey Bruce Health Unit’s Situation Report released Friday, which includes testing and case counts for the 24-hour period up to 11:59 p.m. on Thursday.

Advertisement

Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

With the new cases, the number of confirmed cases in Grey-Bruce now totals 840, including 50 cases of the variants of concern, 17 of which remain active.

The total number of active cases was 66, two less than a day earlier, while 770 cases are considered resolved.

The number of high-risk contacts being followed by the health unit’s contact and case management team increased slightly to 559 in Friday’s report.

Two confirmed cases remained hospitalized in Grey-Bruce, one less than a day earlier, while there remained two Grey-Bruce residents hospitalized with COVID-19 outside the region.

Four local people have died from the virus since the pandemic began more than a year ago.

There have been 84 cases confirmed in health-care workers living in Grey-Bruce.

The lone outbreak in the region continues to be outbreak at the Owen Sound hospital, declared on March 20. There are currently no outbreaks in long-term care or retirement homes, schools, or child-care centres in Grey-Bruce.

A total of 30,382 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been given in Grey-Bruce as of midnight on Thursday, up 1,110 doses from a day earlier.

* * *

St. Anthony’s school in Kincardine will be closed in the week leading up to the April break with classes to be held remotely.

The Bruce Grey Catholic District School Board issued a letter to families that said that a number of staff were isolating due to recent probable and positive cases of COVID-19. The board has not been able to get enough staff and supply staff to cover absences and safely run the school.

Advertisement

Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

“In an effort to ensure students and staff safety we have made the decision to close the school to in person learning for all students and staff for Thursday, April 1, 2021 and Tuesday, April 6 – Friday, April 9,” a letter from director of education Gary O’Donnell and principal Samantha Pitre.

The Grey Bruce Health Unit reported on Tuesday that an earlier probable case associated with the school had been confirmed, while a second probable case had also been identified.

The health unit was working with the school board and the school bus company to address both cases associated with the school. The health unit said its assessment indicated that transmission did not take place within the school environment and as of Friday an outbreak had not been declared because of this. A single bus route was involved with the case, the health unit said.

The closure of the school not ordered by the health unit and was strictly due to the staffing issue.

The students at the school are to learn remotely up until April 9. That will be followed by the spring break April 10 to 18, with plans for the school to reopen to students and staff on April 19, according to the letter.

* * *

Blue Mountain Resort is wrapping up its ski season after confirming with the province that ski hills are included in the province’s latest shutdown.

The lifts and all other activities at the resort in The Town of the Blue Mountains were to close effective midnight on Friday.

“We were hoping to continue with the season for at least a couple more weeks,” spokesperson Tara Lovell said via e-mail on Friday. “We will be going out with a bang though with the hills open until Midnight tonight.”

Advertisement

Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

COVID-19 restrictions and shutdown measures shortened the season at Blue this past season. The resort officially opened its hills on Dec. 19 with health and safety measures in place, but learned just a few days later that they would have to close on Dec. 26 with the implementation of a provincewide lockdown.

The hills remained closed until Feb. 16 when they again opened with health and safety measures and capacity limits in place. They opened the hills from end to end after crews had spent the previous month making snow to build up a solid base.

“We want to thank each and every one of you and all of our Blue Mountain team members for your support throughout the most unusual winter in history,” the resort said in a statement on its website. “Although we weren’t ready to see the lifts stop turning, we have gotten pretty good at navigating change and we will look forward to a better summer.”

All booked activities including lift tickets will be automatically refunded, the statement said.

Select village restaurants and shops, and hotel lodging remained open with adapted operations in place. Anyone wanting to change or cancel a lodging booking were asked to e-mail mail@bluemountain.ca

News Near Owen Sound

This Week in Flyers