Ontario Moving Two Regions to New Levels in the COVID-19 Response Framework

Published on March 26, 2021

Province adjusting public health and workplace safety measures for select activities

TORONTO — Based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government is moving two public health regions to new levels in the COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open, including moving the City of Hamilton public health region to the Grey-Lockdown level. Decisions were made in consultation with the local medical officers of health and are based on the trends in public health indicators and local context and conditions.

"Over the last week, we have continued to see some concerning trends in key health indicators in regions across the province," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "As we cautiously make targeted adjustments to public health measures to support the wellbeing of individuals and small business owners, it is critical that everyone remains vigilant and continues to strictly follow all public health measures and advice to keep each other safe."

Based on the latest data, the following two public health regions will be moving from their current level in the Framework to the following levels effective Monday, March 29, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.:

Grey-Lockdown

  • City of Hamilton Public Health Services

 

Red-Control

  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit

 

In addition, effective today at 12:01 a.m., the government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health moved Timiskaming Health Unit to the Red-Control level in the Framework. The decision was made at the request of the local medical officer of health due to the concerning trends in public health indicators in the region.

To further support businesses and promote fitness during the pandemic, the government is making limited, targeted adjustments to public health and workplace safety measures in the Grey-Lockdown level of the Framework, allowing the safe resumption of select activities where the risk of COVID-19 transmission can be minimized. This includes:

 

  • Effective Monday, March 29, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., permitting outdoor fitness classes, outdoor training for team and individual sports and outdoor personal training, subject to public health and workplace safety measures, including, but not limited to: a maximum of 10 patrons, every person maintaining a physical distance of at least three metres from another person, requiring a reservation and active patron screening.
  • Effective Monday, March 29, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., permitting marinas and boating clubs to operate clubhouses or any restaurant, bar and other food or drink establishment for outdoor dining, subject to public health and workplace safety measures.
  • Effective Monday, April 12, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., personal care service settings including but not limited to barber shops, hair and nail salons, and body art establishments, will be permitted to operate at 25 per cent capacity or five patrons (whichever is less) subject to physical distancing, including by appointment only, and other public health and workplace safety measures.

 

Please view the regulations for full details.

The province is also modifying outdoor capacity limits for weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies held in regions in all levels of the Framework. Effective Monday, March 29, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., capacity limits for weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies, will be adjusted to allow for the number of individuals that can maintain two metres of physical distance. This change does not apply to social gatherings associated with these services, such as receptions.

Targeted enforcements are being applied, with an enhanced focus in public health regions identified in the Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control and Grey-Lockdown levels. This includes conducting field visits to check for compliance with the Reopening Ontario Act.

To ensure the continued health and safety of individuals and families, as public health measures are cautiously adjusted, the government is modifying the activation of an "emergency brake" which would allow the Chief Medical Officer of Health, in consultation with the local medical officer of health, to advise the immediate reimplementation of the previously lifted provincewide Shutdown measures if a public health region experiences a rapid acceleration in COVID-19 transmission or if its health system is at risk of becoming overwhelmed.

"Adjusting the emergency brake to allow for the recommendation to immediately implement shutdown measures in regions experiencing a rapid increase in transmission is important given the changes to the public health measures in the Grey-Lockdown level and will provide an extra layer of protection as we continue to fight this virus," said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. "While adjustments are being made to the emergency brake and certain public health measures, the latest data continues to show some worrying trends throughout the province, and variants of concern remain a significant threat to public health. That is why it is important that people remain cautious and vigilant in order to minimize the transmission of COVID-19 and protect themselves and their communities."  


Quick Facts

  • Please visit Ontario.ca/covidresponse for the full list of public health region classifications.
  • Find out what level and which public health and workplace safety measures are in place for your area.
  • From March 15 to 22, 2021, the Hamilton public health region’s case rate increased by 37.6 per cent, to 109.4 cases per 100,000 people. Over the past week, the positivity rate in the region is 4.6 per cent, above the high-alert threshold of 2.5 per cent.
  • To help stop the spread of COVID-19 and safeguard health system capacity, everyone is strongly urged to continue staying at home and limit trips outside their household and to other regions for essential purposes only, and not to gather with individuals outside of their household. In addition, people are required to wear a face covering in certain circumstances, both indoors and outdoors, including when attending a business or organization that is open to the public, with limited exceptions.
  • Local medical officers of health continue to have the ability to issue Section 22 orders under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, and municipalities may enact by-laws, to target specific transmission risks in the community.
  • Screening tools for workers/employees and customer/visitors help keep Ontarians safe and healthy by pre-screening for symptoms before leaving for work or visiting a business. The tools help workplaces and businesses meet screening requirements.

Additional Resources