Coronavirus: Ontario classifies municipalities in new, more targeted COVID-19 category system

The Ontario government unveiled its new plan of proposed measures for the province’s municipalities on Tuesday, in the wake of calls for more fair and targeted shutdowns and/or restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Premier Doug Ford made the announcement alongside Ontario Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Chief medical Officer of Health (CMOH) Dr. David Williams at his daily press conference at Queen’s Park.

In a document entitled, “COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open,” the government outlines its priorities and principles for the province as it deals with the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen numbers in the 700s and higher for the past several weeks.

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According to the documents, close contact is the highest risk of transmitting the virus, which highlights the need for people to continue to physically distance, stay home when ill, wash hands frequently, and wear a mask.

Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa have seen the highest case counts during the second wave and were therefore placed in a “modified Stage 2” shutdown for 28 days, which ends Nov. 7. York Region followed shortly after.

The new framework aims to adjust and/or tighten measures as “trends in public health indicators improve.”

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The following levels were used: Prevent (standard measures), protect (strengthened measures), restrict (intermediate measures), control (stringent measures), and lockdown (maximum measures).

The goal is to have all public health unit regions in the “prevent” level.

As of right now, most regions are in the Prevent level, with the exception of Brant County, Hamilton, Durham and Halton, which are in Protect level and Eastern Ontario, Ottawa, Peel, Toronto and York are in Restrict level.

Ford said all of those regions, except Toronto, will move to the Restrict level after Nov. 7. Ford said Toronto Mayor John Tory asked for one more week to Nov. 14, until the city follows suit.

Regions move from different levels depending on positivity rates and case numbers, among other things.

“Indicators will generally be assessed based on the previous two weeks of information,” the document said. “However, movement to apply measures will be considered sooner than two weeks if there is a rapidly worsening trend.”

Where public health units fall in the new levels proposed by government.
Where public health units fall in the new levels proposed by government. Ontario government

The new proposed levels have their own measures in place for the different categories of restaurants and bars, sports and recreational fitness, meeting and event spaces, retail, personal care services, casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments, cinemas and performing arts facilities.

The new proposed measures are based off data from the week of Oct. 26. Once the CMOH and cabinet have updated and reviewed data, final approval of the measures will be made.

Restaurants and bars

Prevention:

•Require patrons to be seated; 2m minimum between tables
•Dancing, singing and performing music is permitted, with restrictions
•Karaoke permitted, with restrictions (including no private rooms)
•Require patron contact info (one per group)
•No buffet style service
•Night clubs only permitted to operate as restaurant or bar
•Line-ups/patrons congregating outside venues managed by venue; 2m distance and face covering required
•Face coverings except when eating or drinking only
•Eye protection where patrons without face coverings are within two metres of workers

Control: Measures from all previous three levels, however, there is only a 10-person limit indoors. Takeout, outdoor dining, drive through and delivery are allowed. Dancing, singling and live performances with brass or wind instruments are not allowed.

Proposed measures for restaurants, bars and food or drink establishments.
Proposed measures for restaurants, bars and food or drink establishments. Ontario government

Sports and recreational fitness

Prevention:

•50 people indoors (classes)
•100 people outdoors (classes)
•50 people indoors (area with weights or exercise equipment)
•Spectators allowed (50 indoors and 100 outdoors)
•Limit of 50 people per room basis if operating in compliance with a plan approved by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health (Guidance for Facilities for Sport and Recreational Activities)
•Team or individual sports must be modified to avoid physical contact; 50 people per league
•Exemption for high performance athletes and parasports
•Limit volume of music (e.g., conversation level)/require use of microphone for instructor where needed to avoid shouting

Control: Measures from three previous levels, however gyms and fitness studios can only have 10 people indoors for classes and areas with weights or equipment. All sports and recreational programs inside can only have 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors. Team sports are not to be practiced or played except for training where no scrimmages are allowed).

Proposed measures for sports and recreational fitness
Proposed measures for sports and recreational fitness. Ontario government

Meeting and event spaces

Prevention: 50 people indoors, 100 people outdoors (exceptions for court/government services, weddings and funerals), and booking multiple rooms for an event is not permitted.

Control: Measures from the previous three levels, however, only 10 people allowed indoor and 25 outdoors.

Proposed measures for meeting and event spaces
Proposed measures for meeting and event spaces. Ontario government

Retail

Prevention: fittings room can operate, however, must be limited to non-adjacent stalls, lineups must me managed by the store, physical distancing and masks required.

Control: All measures from previous three levels plus inside dining areas (i.e. food courts) are closed plus capacity limits during winter holiday season for stores and shopping malls.

Proposed measures for retail
Proposed measures for retail. Ontario government

Personal care services

Prevention: Oxygen bars, steam rooms, saunas and whirlpools are closed.

Control: All measures from previous levels plus services requiring removal or face coverings are not allowed.

Proposed measures for personal care services.
Proposed measures for personal care services. Ontario government

Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments

Prevention: No more than 50 people allowed inside establishments, table games allowed or all establishments “operate in accordance with a plan approved by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.”

Control: All measures from previous three levels plus only 10 people allowed indoors and 25 outdoors.

Proposed measures for casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments
Proposed measures for casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments. Ontario government

Cinemas

Prevention: 50 people indoors, 100 outdoors or 50 people allowed per theatre room in accordance with public health, face coverings except when eating or drinking, drive-in cinemas open.

Control: All theatres closed except for drive-ins, however, rehearsals or recorded and broadcast events still allowed.

Proposed measures for cinemas
Proposed measures for cinemas. Ontario government

Performing arts facilities

Prevention: 50 people indoors, 100 outdoors with physical distancing in place, singers/players of wind or brass instruments separated from spectators, rehearsals or performing a recorded/broadcasted event and drive-in performances allowed, performers and employees must maintain physical distancing.

Control: No spectators allowed, however, rehearsals or recorded and broadcast events still allowed.

Proposed measures for performing arts facilities
Proposed measures for performing arts facilities. Ontario government

As of Tuesday, Ontario reported a single-day record high of 1,050 coronavirus cases, bringing the provincial total to 78,705.

According to Tuesday’s provincial report, 408 new cases were recorded in Toronto, 212 in Peel Region, 86 in Halton Region, 76 in York Region, 57 in Durham Region, 34 each in Ottawa and Hamilton, and 31 in Niagara.

With files from Gabby Rodrigues

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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