The provincial government has let the majority of Ontario’s public health unit zones know where they sit once the Ontario-wide stay-at-home order is lifted. Simcoe-Muskoka will find itself in the Red-Control tier once Tuesday rolls around.
Simcoe-Muskoka will be among the eleven regions across Ontario to be grouped into the Red-Control level, based on the trends of key indicators in the region, that include the transmission rates of COVID-19, hospital capacity, and ability to conduct case and contact management.
“While we are cautiously and gradually transitioning some regions out of the 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.”
Under the Red-Control tier, folks are discouraged from making trips outside the home except for essential reasons like work, school, groceries, health care, assisting vulnerable individuals, or exercise. Families should continue to avoid visiting other households or allowing others into their homes, and everyone should avoid social gatherings.
The Red-Control tier stipulates that public events and gatherings cannot exceed five people indoors or 25 outside. Religious services, rites, or ceremonies including weddings are limited to 30 per cent of a facility’s capacity or up to 100 people outside.
Restaurants, bars, and other food and drink establishments are capped at 10 patrons seated indoors. Despite the cold, outdoor dining is permitted, while take out, drive-thru, and delivery services can continue unfettered. There can be no buffet-style service under the Red-Control tier, and screening and masking of all patrons are required.
Physical distancing measures must be taken in sports and recreational fitness facilities, with capacities of 10 indoors, 25 outdoors.
Retail locations must post capacity limits publicly. Supermarkets and other stores that sell groceries are capped at 75 per cent of regular capacity. All other retail locations, including big box stores, hardware stores, garden centres, and liquor stores are capped at 50 per cent capacity indoors.
While oxygen bars, steam rooms, saunas, bath houses, and other personal care services must remain closed under this tier, other services such as hair salons can reopen. Those services requiring removal of face coverings remain prohibited.
Only one of the 28 health unit zones coming out of the stay-at-home order on Tuesday will be in the Grey-Lockdown category, that of Niagara region. Meanwhile, it is expected Toronto, Peel Region, York Region, and North Bay Parry Sound District will remain under the stay-at-home order until at least February 22.