How to understand Ontario's confusing colour-coded system

Nov 21 2020, 6:00 am

The Ontario government has released framework to help Ontarians navigate the next phase of the pandemic – and this time, it’s colour-coded. This framework outlines rules, restrictions, and zones for every region throughout the province based on how they are faring with the virus.

However, it can be a confusing system to navigate. Especially because the framework acts as a guideline, meaning each local medical officer of health can add on more restrictions if they deem it necessary.

The colour-coded framework includes five different zones: Prevent-Green, Protect-Yellow, Restrict-Orange, Control-Red, and Lockdown-Grey.

The government recently announced that it would be extending the orders intended to combat COVID-19 until at least December 21.

All Ontarians are being asked to limit close contact to their immediate household, regardless of which zone they live in.

Those in the red or grey zones should only leave their homes for essential purposes, such as work, school, grocery shopping, exercise, and medical appointments, the government says.

With different rules and restrictions flying around, it’s important to know which rules apply to certain regions. Residents from grey or red zones should not be entering other zones, especially when the province is asking that they limit trips outside of the home.

Daily Hive has broken it all down for you to understand why the colour-coded system exists and how to navigate it.

What do the colours mean?

covid19 colour zones framework

Government of Ontario

The Green zone is the most open, with only the highest-risk operations remaining closed. The Yellow zone includes fines and enhanced targeted enforcement to limit further transmission of the virus. There are also public health measures for high-risk settings in place.

The Orange zone includes enhanced measures, restrictions, and enforcement while trying to avoid any unnecessary closures. The Red zone has broader-scale measures and restrictions across multiple sectors to forcefully control transmission.

The Grey zone is most similar to the mandated lockdown imposed at the beginning of the pandemic, and includes widescale measures and restrictions, including closures, to stop transmission

Ontario COVID-19 restrictions

Government of Ontario

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that several health regions across the province will face harsher restrictions beginning at 12:01am on November 23.

The City of Toronto and Peel Region will be placed in the grey zone for at least 28 days. This marks the first time the province has placed health regions under a second lockdown since the start of the pandemic.

At the same time, Durham Region and Waterloo will move into the red zone.

Under the grey category, no indoor organized public events or social gatherings will be allowed, except with members of the same household. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people, as long as physical distancing is maintained.

Restaurants, bars, and food or drink establishments can only be open for takeout, delivery, and drive-through. Retail stores can only offer curbside pick-up and delivery.

Several industries are closed in the grey zone, including personal care services, casinos, bingo halls, cinemas (except for drive-ins), museums, sports and recreational facilities (except for high performance and professional athletes), and meeting and event spaces.

Supermarkets, grocery and convenience stores, hardware stores, beer, wine, and liquor stores, pharmacies, and safety supply stores will remain open at 50% capacity.

See also:

So which areas are in what colour?

Below are all of the Ontario Public Health regions and the corresponding colour-coded zone they will be in as of Monday, November 23:

Prevent (standard measures) – GREEN

Protect (strengthened measures) – YELLOW

Restrict (intermediate measures) – ORANGE

Control (stringent measures) – RED

Lockdown (maximum measures) – GREY

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