KITCHENER -- Waterloo Region's top doctor has issued an order for shopping malls and retail stores to set a maximum capacity for shoppers in their stores.

The Section 22 order, issued by Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, comes into effect on Friday, Nov. 27 at 12:01 a.m.

Stores and shopping malls will have to immediately set a maximum capacity for patrons to ensure that people can stay at least two metres apart. They'll have to "actively monitor compliance" and ensure that physical distancing is maintained in common areas and places like washrooms, hallways and entrances.

These businesses will also need to "actively manage all line-ups or patrons congregating," the order read in part.

If convicted, failure to comply with the order could result in a fine of up to $5,000 per day.

The order was made as the spread of COVID-19 in Waterloo Region continues to surge, enough so that the province escalated Waterloo Region to the red "control" tier last week. That's only one level away from a lockdown, such as the ones now in effect in Toronto and Peel Region.

Dr. Wang listed a total of seven reasons for the order being made.

"The risk of transmission of COVID-19 is significant in close contact environments where persons are within two metres and/or without face coverings," one point read.

"Persons may be infected with COVID-19 without showing symptoms, and may spread COVID-19 to other persons, their families, and others they come into contact with."

Dr. Wang added that retail stores and malls have all worked hard to keep their patrons safe, and the order will make sure they're under the same obligation to limit and manage their capacity.

"While the provincial framework puts in place significant restrictions in multiple settings, I felt it was important to build on those requirements to ensure that the fundamental principle of physical distancing can be followed in all retail stores and malls in order to protect patrons and staff, especially during the holiday shopping season," Dr. Wang's statement said in part. "This is for the protection of our community."

Lillian Stojanoski, general manager of CF Fairview Park, said its current capacity is set at 80 per cent to allow for two metres of physical distancing.

"Out of an abundance of precautions we monitor when the occupancy reaches at 50 per cent and actively respond to that," a statement from Stojanoski said in part.

There have been more than 3,100 cases of the disease in the region since the pandemic began, a number that has spiked significantly in November. There have been dozens of new outbreaks declared in the region since then, as well, including several in workplace settings.