Old Order Mennonites in Ontario's Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph region have been ordered to shut down their schools and churches in response to COVID-19 restrictions.
Local medical officer, Dr. Nicola Mercer, has also ordered the community to follow government health instructions and gathering restrictions.
The directive was issued earlier today and singles out Old Order Mennonites.:
“I am saddened by the need for this extraordinary step,” said Dr. Mercer. “I do not take the issuing of Section 22 Orders lightly, but COVID-19 poses a serious health risk to the Old Order Mennonite Community and to all of us in the region. Sometimes we need to make difficult decisions to prevent the unchecked spread of this virus.”
Global News reports:
Public health said that along with the increase in cases and two known outbreaks of COVID-19, the “uptake of public health measures has been low.”
It added that cases have been confirmed in the Old Order Mennonite community but health-care workers cannot conduct contact tracing because this information is not being provided.
According to a CBC report on the Mennonite closures,
Public health reports there are 101 active cases in Guelph and Wellington and Dufferin counties and there are two people in hospital.
In total since March, there have been 1,008 cases. There have been 38 deaths and public health says 869 cases are considered resolved.
Wellington County in particular has seen a spike in cases in recent weeks, public health reports.
The local Waterloo University notes that:
...of the estimated 59,000 Mennonites in Ontario, only about twenty percent are members of conservative groups, such as Old Order Mennonites, Old Order Amish, or Old Colony Mennonites.