Here's what Ontario's new colour-coded system means for COVID-19 hotspots

Nov 10 2020, 4:47 pm

Update: As of November 30, some regions will be entering a different colour-coded zone in Ontario’s framework. Read about that update in How to understand Ontario’s confusing colour-coded system.

Ontario’s new colour-coded system can be a bit difficult to decode. Different regions are in different colours and knowing exactly what the new restrictions are in each category can be a challenge to follow.

Last week, Premier Doug Ford announced the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Frameworkwhich places every region into five categories. Each has distinct guidelines to help stop the spread of the virus. The five categories are prevent (green), protect (yellow), restrict (orange), control (red), and lockdown (grey).

Government of Ontario

There are four identified COVID-19 hotspots: Ottawa, York, Peel Region, and Toronto.

Currently, Ottawa is in the orange category, York is in the yellow category, Peel is in the red category, and Toronto is still in the modified Stage 2 until November 14.

It’s important to note that the colour categorizations are more like guidelines, meaning local medical officers of health can loosen or tighten restrictions for their region.

On Monday, Peel Region did just that, with Dr. Lawrence Loh implemented more stringent health measures than what were already in place with the red category.

The City of Toronto is expected to provide an update on their enhanced measures on Tuesday at 4 pm.

In order to be placed in each category there must be certain epidemiological criteria met.

Government of Ontario

Yellow – Protect

You must have 10 to 39.9 range of people with the virus per 100,000 with a positivity rate of 1 to 2.5%. And the reproductive number must be around 1, meaning the virus is not spreading.

When it comes to restaurants and bars there must be limited operating hours, with establishments closing at midnight. Liquor can be sold or served only between 9 am to 11 pm and there can be no consumption of liquor permitted between 12 am to 9 am.

There must also be contact information from all seated patrons with a limit of six people seated together.

For sports and recreational fitness, you can have 50 people indoors for classes, as well as for areas with weights or exercise equipment. And there can be 100 people outdoors for classes.

However, there must be increased spacing between patrons of 3 metres and recreational programs are limited to 10 people per room indoors and 25 outdoors. There must also be requirements for contact information for all patrons and attendees for team sports and reservations are needed for entry.

Cinemas, casinos, and performing arts venues can all reopen with 50 people indoors. And there are strict requirements for liquor being sold and consumed.

Orange – Restrict 

In the “restrict” phase, the region must have 40 to 99.9 range of people with the virus per 100,000 with a positivity rate of 2.5% to 9.9%. The reproductive number must be between 1 and 1.2 meaning the virus is not spreading or spreading mildly.

Indoor dining can resume with just 50 people maximum, and establishments must close at 10 pm. Liquor can only be sold from 9 am to 9 pm and there can be no consumption of liquor between 10 pm to 9 am.

Only four people can be seated together, and all patrons must be screened.

Strip clubs remain closed.

For sports and recreational facilities there can be a maximum of 50 people per facility in all combined recreational fitness spaces or programs (not pools, rinks or arenas, community centres, or multi-purpose facilities).

There is also a required screening of all patrons and a maximum duration of stay of 60 minutes, exempt for sports.

When it comes to personal care services, if it requires the patron to remove a face covering, then the service is prohibited.

Cinemas, casinos, and performing arts venues can all reopen with 50 people indoors. And there are strict requirements for liquor being sold and consumed.

Red – Control

In order to be in the red zone, the positivity rate must be more than 10%, and there must be more than 100 people with the virus out of 100,000.

In the red zone, social gathering limits remain the same, with 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

Also, restaurants and bars can reopen for indoor dining at this level but can only have a maximum of 10 people inside. However, interior dining spaces in malls will be closed.

When it comes to gyms, there can be 10 people indoors for classes and 10 people indoors for areas that have weight and exercise equipment.

All sports and recreational programs in other facilities (arenas and multiplexes) will be limited to 10 people per room indoors and 25 people outdoors.

Team sports must not be practiced or played except for training (no games or scrimmage), and there is no contact permitted for team or individual sports.

Casinos can remain open with the same limit for patrons and cinemas remain closed along with performing arts venues (they can stay open for rehearsal as long as people are distanced).

Clarrie FeinsteinClarrie Feinstein

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