NORTH BAY -- The North Bay and Parry Sound districts are likely to remain in the red-control zone of the province’s colour-coded framework, says Dr. Jim Chirico, local medical officer of health.

“I anticipate we will remain where we are for at least the next week,” said Chirico in a Thursday morning media conference. “That is my recommendation as well, but ultimately the decision is the government’s.”

Chirico’s comments came as the province announced Sudbury would be moving into lockdown starting Friday morning. The Ontario government made the announcement on the advice of the chief medical officer of health.

“We can’t make decisions simply based on what’s going on within our boundaries,” said Chirico.

He reminded the public that things can change quickly with the COVID-19 variants of concern. Chirico said he understands tighter restrictions are a tough pill to swallow for business owners, but said the last thing to do is to keep “closing and opening.”

“What we’ve learned is the best way to have long term re-opening is to not open too early,” he said.

Chirico said health unit staff continue to monitor the situation every day.

Meanwhile, people in the district 80 years of age or older can begin to book appointments for a COVID-19 vaccine starting Monday.

COVID-19 vaccine Public Health nurse lead Scott Thibodeau said immunizations in the district will begin March 22.

“We’re looking at having eight-, 10- and 12-hour clinics in larger communities and four-hour clinics in other areas depending on the municipality,” Thibodeau said. “We want to get as many immunizations in arms as possible.”

Clinics will be held on weekends, as well. However, the health unit doesn’t have enough capacity to run clinics 24-hours a day.

“Be patient. It’s going to be a frustrating experience,” Chirico said. “The experience of other health units with online bookings and phone systems have been very challenging. Oftentimes, they’ll crash.”

Anyone looking to book an appointment should have their health card, full name and address, and an email or telephone number ready.

As of Thursday morning, almost 6,000 vaccines have been administered in the district.

Thibodeau said vaccines have been completed for all long-term care home residents and Indigenous elder care facilities.