Simcoe and Muskoka being moved to Red Zone as of Monday amid rising COVID numbers locally

Red zone requirements call for capacity limits in restaurants, bars, gyms, casinos, and shopping centres

Short on time? Here’s what you need to know:
-Due to factors such as rising caseload, reproductive number, and percent positivity, Simcoe and Muskoka are being moved into the control-red tier of COVID response for a minimum of 28 days
-The control-red tier includes restrictions like a capacity cap of 10 patrons inside restaurants, bars, gyms, casinos, bingo halls, or meeting spaces

The Province of Ontario today announced Simcoe and Muskoka will move into the Red Zone of its COVID framework as of Monday morning. This comes as local COVID numbers continue to trend in the wrong direction.

The region will be elevated to control-red status as of Monday morning at 12:01 a.m.

Under the control-red tier of the province’s COVID-19 response framework, broader-scale measures and restrictions are implemented. Restrictions under the control-red tier are the most severe available before widescale business closures under the lockdown-grey tier.

A region is required to remain in its level for a minimum of 28 days before it can be moved back to a lower tier.

The control-red tier calls for limits on public events and social gatherings of five people indoors, and 25 outdoors. Religious services, ceremonies, weddings, and funeral services where distancing can be maintained will have a cap of 30% capacity indoors, or 100 people outdoors.

Dining out

In restaurants, bars, and other food and drink establishments, there is a capacity limit of 10 patrons indoors. A limit of four people per table will continue while in the red zone, while dancing, singing, and live music performances are prohibited.

The control-red tier comes with a cap of 10 patrons inside a restaurant

Establishments must be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., while liquor can only be served from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Outdoor dining, takeout, drive-thru, and delivery orders are permitted, including alcohol.

Shopping, gaming, and recreation

Retail locations must screen patrons according to instructions provided by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. Fitting rooms must be limited to non-adjacent stalls, and music volume must be low enough to allow normal conversation. Malls can only allow 10 patrons at the most to be seated at indoor food courts, and a safety plan is required to be prepared and available on request.

Shoppers must be screened before entry

Casinos, bingo halls, and other gaming establishments must have a capacity of 10 people inside or 25 outside, with no table games permitted whatsoever. Contact information is required of all patrons, who must be screened accordingly before being admitted.

Movie theatres and performing arts facilities are closed to spectators. Drive-in theatres can remain open, while rehearsals and pre-recorded performances can go ahead so long as physical distancing can be maintained.

Working out

At sports and recreational fitness facilities, there must be a distance of 3 metres between patrons in areas where weights or exercise equipment are present, or in exercise and fitness classes. There is a capacity of 10 people indoors, 25 outdoors.

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Capacity limits put in place at gyms and fitness centres

No spectators are permitted, but those 18 years of age or under can be accompanied by one parent or guardian. No team sports can practice or play except for training. Unless engaging in a sport, patrons must be limited to 90 minutes inside a facility.

Red Zone requirements

To get into the control-red zone, a region must see a weekly incident rate of 40 cases per 100,000 people or more. Simcoe Muskoka recently surpassed 45 cases per 100,000 people. A region’s percent positivity rate exceeding 2.5% is another marker a region should meet before advancing to the red tier, while Simcoe and Muskoka’s have been bouncing around the 2.1-mark since mid-November. A reproductive number above 1.2 is another marker health experts look at, Simcoe Muskoka’s is 1.4. Repeated outbreaks and an advanced level of community transmission are other metrics used to gauge when to move into the red zone, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has reported both in recent days.

Other regions seeing grey

While Simcoe Muskoka will be elevated to the control-red zone as of Monday, the province states that York Region and Windsor-Essex will join Toronto and Peel in the lockdown-grey tier in response to ballooning COVID numbers in those locations.

“Moving a region into Grey-Lockdown is not an easy decision, but it is one we needed to make in order to help stop the spread of the virus and safeguard the key services we rely on,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “As we enter the holiday season and as the province prepares to receive its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines, it remains crucial for all Ontarians to continue adhering to public health advice and workplace safety measures to reduce the spread of the virus and keep each other safe.”