Outbreak linked to Cambridge wedding linked to 21 cases
KITCHENER -- A COVID-19 outbreak linked to a wedding in Cambridge is linked to 21 cases.
"Regardless of rules, people are going to be up close and personal," said Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist at the University of Toronto. "That's why weddings are probably the number one super spreader event."
The wedding had 108 guests and eight staff members in attendance, which didn't go against provincial regulations. Under the red "control" tier of the province's reopening framework, venues can operate under 30 per cent capacity. The venue holds around 700 people.
The region's COVID-19 dashboard declared the outbreak has ended as of March 16.
However, the rules for parties after the wedding are different. Only 10 people are allowed.
"It's a wedding, people are going to hug and kiss," Furness said. "If they are not doing it where guards can see, they are doing it elsewhere."
Staff at local wedding venues, like Tapestry Hall, said they've seen an increase in requests from Toronto-area couples who want to host more people at their wedding.
"About half of them have come from out of the zone and we've had to be the bearer of unfortunate news," said Christina Marshall, director of business development with Gaslights Event Company.
Earlier this week, the province said regions in the grey "lockdown" tier can increase capacity for religious services, including weddings, to 50 people outdoors and 15 per cent capacity indoors.
"The government recognizes the important role that weddings, funerals and faith based services play for Ontarians, including in maintaining their mental health and well-being," a statement from the Ministry of Health said in part.
The statement added that people are encouraged to stay home as much as possible and not gather with people outside of their household. They should also wear a mask or face covering when within two metres of people they don't live with.
However, Furness said there are concerns about gatherings of that size as case counts rise in the province.
"We are putting a log on a very unwelcome fire," he said. "Right now would be the worst possible time to ease restrictions and that's because we are in a third wave that is variant-driven."
Ontario has reported more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases for 10 straight days and the provincial positivity rate rose to 4.5 per cent.
Waterloo Region added 37 more cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.