28 public health units across Ontario will remain under the stay-at-home order and in the Grey-Lockdown level until Tuesday, February 16th. However, the province is allowing more retail businesses to open for limited in-person shopping in the Grey-Lockdown areas. Those businesses will have to follow public safety measures and will only be allowed 25-percent capacity once open.
Once the Tuesday, February 16th deadline is met, the province will then slowly begin to allow reopening on a regional basis under the framework depending on the transmission of COVID-19, hospital capacity in the region, and the ability to rapidly conduct case and contact tracing.
The state of emergency put in place in January will be allowed to expire Tuesday, February 9th.
The reopening framework has been tightened up to allow for a safer approach to in-person shopping and getting people back to work according to premier Doug Ford, “Our number one priority will always be protecting the health and safety of all individuals, families, and workers across the province. But we must also consider the severe impact COVID-19 is having on our businesses. That’s why we have been listening to business owners, and we are strengthening and adjusting the Framework to allow more businesses to safely reopen and get people back to work.”
The province is also introducing an “emergency brake” for regions allowed to reopen that will allow for an immediate reversal into the Grey-Lockdown level of the reopening framework. That will be used if there is a rapid acceleration of COVID-19 transmission in the areas or if the health care system risks becoming overwhelmed.
The province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health along with local medical officers of health will make that decision according to Dr. David Williams, “While we are seeing our numbers trend in the right direction, our situation remains precarious as the variants of concern remain a serious risk. This is not a re-opening or a ‘return to normal’ and we must continue to limit close contact to our immediate households and stay at home except for essential reasons. By continuing to follow all public health and workplace safety measures, we can continue to reduce the number of new cases and the strain on our health system.”
The province is allowing three public health units (Hastings Prince Edward Public Health, Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox, and Addington Public Health, and Renfrew County and District Health Unit) to open up on Wednesday and is moving them back to the Green-Prevent level of the province’s reopening framework. Toronto, York, and Peel regions will remain in lockdown until February 22nd.