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HPEPH introducing enhanced public health restrictions in response to increase in cases, highly contagious Omicron variant

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/Dec. 15, 2021 –

In response to the alarming increase of COVID-19 cases and the emergence of the highly contagious Omicron variant of concern in Ontario, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is introducing additional restrictions to protect our community, keep our schools and businesses safe and open, and reduce the impact on our health care resources.

“The number of cases in our region are increasing at a concerning rate, and with the holidays approaching, we must take further action now to protect our community and reduce strain on our critical health care resources,” says Dr. Ethan Toumishey, Acting Medical Officer of Health for HPEPH. “I am asking everyone to renew their commitment to preventing the spread – even if you are fully vaccinated. Stay home if you are sick. Avoid social gatherings and if you must gather, keep it small and keep your contacts consistent. Until everyone is vaccinated and gets their booster – these steps are critical to protect each other.”

Today, Dr. Toumishey is issuing a class order and letter of instruction, both of which take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, December 17.

Class Order pursuant to Section 22 of the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act, 1990.

Case investigations continue to show that private social gatherings are a key driver of the spread of COVID-19 in the region. Reducing indoor gathering limits in private dwellings is necessary to prevent illness and the spread of COVID-19. In accordance with the order:

  • Indoor social gatherings in a private dwelling can not exceed 10 people, including residents of the private dwelling and gathering attendees (private dwelling includes houses, apartment buildings, condominium buildings and post-secondary student residences).
  • Individuals hosting an indoor social gathering in a private dwelling must maintain a list of guests and provide it to HPEPH within 12 hours of request for the purposes of COVID-19 case and contact tracing.
  • Individuals hosting an indoor social gathering in a private dwelling must provide HPEPH with other information regarding the social gathering as requested by HPEPH within 12 hours of the request for the purposes of COVID-19 case and contact tracing.

Letter of Instruction pursuant to Section 2 of Schedule 1 of Ontario Regulation 364/20: Rules for Areas at Step 3 and at the Roadmap Exit Step.

Social interaction in businesses and organizations have the potential to increase COVID-19 transmission, especially when staff and patrons are symptomatic and remove their mask.

Additional measures as outlined in the Letter of Instruction are designed to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission associated with interactions in businesses and organizations. These measures require that:

  • Patrons wear a mask or face covering at all times, except to consume food or drink.
  • Patrons remain seated at all times when consuming food or drink.
  • Patron contact information is collected and provided to HPEPH within 12 hours of request, for the purposes of COVID-19 case and contact tracing.
  • Staff, volunteer and third-party contractor attendance records are provided to HPEPH within 12 hours of request, for the purposes of COVID-19 case and contact tracing.
  • Compliance with all other public health measures related to screening, physical distancing, use of personal protective equipment, and maintaining contact information of every member of the public who enters the facility is maintained.

The Letter of Instruction and Class Order will remain in effect until further notice and individuals who fail to comply may be liable for a fine of up to a maximum of $100,000.

To learn more about COVID-19, how you can protect yourself and what to do if you suspect you may be at risk, visit

For information about safer gatherings this holiday season, please visit

For information about vaccination opportunities in the region, please visit


Media contacts

Maureen Hyland, Communications Specialist

Emily Tubbs, Communications Specialist

About Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is a public health agency that serves the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward from four local offices. We monitor the health of our local population, deliver programs and services within our communities, and help develop healthy public policies. We provide information and support in many areas to help improve the health and well-being of our residents. Together with our communities, we help people become as healthy as they can be. For more information, please visit You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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Symptoms or exposure? Visit for the most up to date information about what to do.

For the most up to date information on current provincial restrictions, visit

The Ministry of Health has launched a new toll-free line as an additional resource to help answer questions from the public regarding evolving COVID-19 testing and isolation guidance. The line can be reached at 1-888-777-0730, and is available from 8 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week.


Appointments for individuals 5+ can be booked through the provincial vaccine booking site, or by calling 1-833-943-3900 from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week.  Visit the HPEPH vaccine booking web page for details.