What changes to the tiered, colour-coded COVID-19 framework mean for Ontario
Patrons dine indoors at a pub in the Byward Market as rain falls in Ottawa, on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Published Monday, February 8, 2021 1:12PM EST
Ontario has been under a province-wide lockdown since December forcing retail stores, fitness centres and non-essential services to shutdown in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.
As case numbers of the novel coronavirus decline, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced on Monday that the province would begin gradually moving parts of the province back into its colour-coded framework.
On Wednesday, three public health units, including Hastings Prince Edward Public Health, Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health, Renfrew County and District Health Unit will move into the “green-prevent” stage of the framework.
The province also announced changes to its five-category colour-coded framework on Monday, and CTV News Toronto has compiled a summary of what the changes mean for Ontario.
In this category, the region must focus on education and awareness about public health safety measures. It also requires people to maintain at least two metres of physical distance and wear a face covering in indoor settings.
All retailers are also asked to have and post a safety plan. Restrictions reflect those of Stage 3 until there is a widely available vaccine or treatment.
To be assigned this status, the health unit must have a weekly incidence rate of fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 people. The test positivity rate must be under below one 0.5 per cent.
In this category, the region will enhance targeted enforcement, fines and education to limit further transmission. Additional public health measures are required in high-risk settings, such as restaurants and gyms.
Regions placed in the protect category will have a weekly incidence rate between 10 and 24.9 cases per 100,000 people. The test positivity rate must be between 0.5 and 1.2 per cent.
When a region moves to this level, enhanced measure and restrictions are applied to slow the spread and prevent closures. During this stage, the province announced on Monday that active screening would take place of people entering indoor malls.
The weekly incidence rate in these regions must be between 25 and 39.9 cases per 100,000 people. The test positivity rate must be between 1.3 and 2.4 per cent.
At this level, hospital and ICU occupancy are increasing.
In the control phase, regions will implement broader-scale measures and restrictions across multiple sectors. This phase will be similar to a modified Stage 2.
The restrictions in this phase are the most severe before moving to a lockdown. In-person shopping is permitted for retail services with capacity limits, including a 75 per cent capacity limit for essential stores and a 50 per cent capacity for all other retail stores. Active screening of patrons and workers at indoor malls would continue at this stage.
The weekly incident rate is more than 40 cases per 100,000 people. The positivity rate must increase above 2.5 per cent.
In this stage, hospital and ICU capacity are at risk of being overwhelmed.
While the grey-lockdown phase initially meant the closure of all non-essential businesses, the province announced on Monday that this last category would become more lenient.
The province reported that in-person shopping would now be permitted for retail stores with even more stringent capacity limits in this stage. Essential stores like supermarkets and pharmacies would have a 50 per cent capacity limit in this stage, while all other stores would have a 25 per cent capacity limit.
In this stage, 10 people are allowed to gather outdoors but two metres distance needs to be maintained. Masks are strongly recommended when outside. Outdoor recreational amenities, including ice rinks and snow trails are open with restrictions.
All other restrictions from the four other stages will continue in the grey-lockdown phase.