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Huron-Perth moving to ‘orange’, Grey-Bruce to ‘yellow’ on Feb. 16 as province lifts lockdown

TORONTO — The province is lifting the stay-at-home order and lockdown in 27 public health regions, including Grey-Bruce, Huron-Perth and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph.

These public health regions will be moving, the Ontario government says, “into a revised and strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework” as of Tuesday, Feb. 16.

The Grey Bruce Health Unit region will move into the ‘yellow – protect’ level, Huron Perth Public Health will move into ‘orange – restrict’ and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph will move to ‘red – control’ and will no longer be subject to the stay-at-home order.

The province says the decision on what level to move regions into was made “based on a general improvement in trends of key indicators, including lower transmission of COVID-19, improving hospital capacity, and available public health capacity to conduct rapid case and contact management.”

“The health and safety of Ontarians remains our number one priority. While we are cautiously and gradually transitioning some regions out of shutdown, with the risk of new variants this is not a reopening or a return to normal,” said Christine Elliott, deputy premier and minister of health.

“Until vaccines are widely available, it remains critical that all individuals and families continue to adhere to public health measures and stay home as much as possible to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities.”

Four public health regions – North Bay Parry Sound District, Peel Public Health, Toronto Public Health and York Region Public Health – will remain under stay-at-home and lockdown measures until at least Feb. 22.

The government stated Friday that public health regions will remain at their level for at least two weeks. At that time, the government will assess whether a region should remain at their current level or be moved to a different level.

Under the framework, the following restrictions apply to each level:

Yellow

  • social gatherings are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors, and organized public events are capped at 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors;
  • religious services and ceremonies, including weddings and funerals, are capped at 30 per cent capacity indoors and 100 people outdoors;
  • restaurants may open for dine-in service with a limit of six people per table, along with other restrictions;
  • sports and recreational facilities may open, with restrictions; and
  • retail stores, personal care services, cinemas and performing arts centres may open, with restrictions.

Orange

  • social gatherings are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors, and organized public events are capped at 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors;
  • religious services and ceremonies, including weddings and funerals, are capped at 30 per cent capacity indoors and 100 people outdoors;
  • restaurants may open for dine-in service with a maximum of 50 people in the building and four people per table, along with other restrictions;
  • sports and recreational facilities may open, with restrictions; and
  • retail stores, personal care services, cinemas and performing arts centres may open, with restrictions.

Red

  • all social gatherings and organized public events are capped at 5 people indoors and 25 people outdoors;
  • religious services and ceremonies, including weddings and funerals, are capped at 30 per cent capacity indoors and 100 people outdoors;
  • restaurants may open for dine-in service with a limit of 10 people indoors (maximum four people per table), along with other restrictions;
  • sports and recreational facilities may open, with restrictions;
  • retail stores and personal care services centres may open, with restrictions; and
  • supermarkets and other stores that primarily sell groceries are limited to 75 per cent capacity, and all other retailers (including discount and big box stores) are limited to 50 per cent capacity.

Visitor restrictions for long-term care homes will once again apply to those homes in the public health regions that are in the Orange-Restrict level or higher. Also, long-term care homes must implement enhanced testing requirements.

A full list of public health region classifications and restrictions for each level can be found at Ontario.ca/covidresponse.

New to the framework is the introduction of an “emergency brake” that will allow the chief medical officer of health, in consultation with the local medical officer of health, to immediately advise moving a region into grey – lockdown to interrupt transmission.

Local medical officers of health also can issue Section 22 orders under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, to target specific transmission risks in the community.

“While the trends in public health indicators are heading in the right direction, we still have work to do,” said Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health.

“Everyone is strongly advised to continue staying at home, avoid social gatherings, only travel between regions for essential purposes, and limit close contacts to your household or those you live with.”