SUDBURY -- With 358 confirmed cases since the COVID-19 pandemic began, including 112 active cases as of Friday, the province is moving Thunder Bay to the orange/restrict level under Ontario's coronavirus framework.

The community has seen several spikes in cases, including 29 new cases on Nov. 26 and 16 new cases on Dec. 1. It had been in the yellow/protect designation.

Thunder Bay joins the Middlesex-London Health Unit in moving to the orange/restrict level. Moving to yellow/protect are Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit.

"The Ontario government, in consultation with the chief medical officer of health, local medical officers of health, and other health experts, is moving three public health regions to new levels with stronger public health measures as set out in the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework," the province said in a news release.

These steps are being taken to stop the spread of COVID-19 in order to keep schools open, the province said, safeguard health system capacity, and protect the province's most vulnerable populations.

Trending in wrong direction

"Over the last seven days we have seen the trends in key public health indicators continue to go in the wrong direction in these three regions," Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, said in the release. "By taking proactive action and moving these regions to a higher level in the framework, we are helping them to reduce transmission in the community and avoid broader closures. The health and well-being of Ontarians remains our top priority."

The changes take effect Dec. 7 at 12:01 a.m.

All other public health regions will remain at their current level. Visit for the full list of public health region classifications.

For long-term care homes, visitor restrictions apply to those homes in the public health unit regions that are in the orange-restrict level or higher. In addition, long-term care homes must implement recently enhanced testing requirements.

"Trends in public health data will continue to be reviewed weekly to determine if public health units should stay where they are or be moved into a higher level," the province said. "Public health units will stay in their level for a minimum of 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods, at which time, the government will assess the impact of public health measures to determine if the public health unit should stay where they are or be moved to a different level."

The Ministry of Health will continue to consult regularly with local medical officers of health on local context and conditions to help inform the classification of their public health unit region.

Avoid close contact

All Ontarians should avoid close contact with anyone not living in the same household. People who live alone may have exclusive close contact with one additional household to prevent feelings of isolation and mitigate against negative mental health impacts.

Ontarians should also follow all required public health measures, and public health advice, as we approach the holiday season.

No matter where you live in the province, the safest way to spend the holidays this year is by only celebrating in person with the people you live with and celebrating virtually with everyone else. People who live alone may have exclusive close contact with one additional household.

"As we continue in our fight against the second wave of COVID-19 and begin preparing for the holiday season, it remains crucial for all Ontarians to continue following public health measures and advice," Dr. David Williams, chief Medical officer of health, said in the release. "By limiting close contact to those who you live with and by adhering to public event and social gathering limits, we can once again bend the curve and prevent the need for further restrictions."