Eastern Ontario Health Unit looks at new restrictions as COVID-19 cases rise

With COVID-19 cases rising in eastern Ontario, the region's top doctor warns Alexandria, Cornwall, Casselman, Hawkesbury, Clarence-Rockland and other areas of eastern Ontario could roll back to a modified Stage 2.

There were 86 new cases of COVID-19 in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region over the last seven days. The high was 23 new cases on Thursday.

"We are likely going to or need to really look at over the next couple of days the possibility of us too in our area going into this modified Stage 2 type of restriction," said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Eastern Ontario's Medical Officer of Health.

In eastern Ontario, the rate of COVID-19 transmission has risen to 1.3.

"It means that one case will lead to 1.35 more cases. So what we're seeing there is with an RT that high, we're seeing exponential growth," said Ryan Imgrund, Biostatistician.

"We're not see these cases plateauing; we are expecting to see those cases increase for quite some time."

The Ontario Government moved Ottawa, Peel Region and Toronto into a modified Stage 2 on Oct. 10, introducing new restrictions. Indoor dining at bars and restaurants is prohibited, and gyms, fitness centres, casinos, cinemas and performing arts centres are closed.

In Clarence-Rockland, business owners are concerned about the rise in COVID-19 cases and the threat of new restrictions.

"It's really concerning, I guess people aren't really listening and they don't see the gratitude of how hard us restaurant and business owners are trying to work," said Sameer Chhibber, owner of Gab's Sports Bar.

Chhibber tells CTV News Ottawa another shutdown would be tough, following the shutdown in the spring.

"It’s definitely going to be very difficult. We don’t know what the future holds, we don’t know how long it’s going to be closed for. With the busy season, Christmas and all that coming up, that’s all restaurants busy time and we don’t know what’s going to happen during those times."

Dr. Roumeliotis tells CTV News Ottawa's Jeremie Charron that new data expected to be released this week will help determine whether new restrictions need to be imposed in eastern Ontario to limit the spread of COVID-19.