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COVID-19: Ontario introduces colour-coded regional classification system

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Ottawa, Peel and York Region will move out of the modified Stage 2 on Saturday

TORONTO — Today, Premier Doug Ford announced that as of 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 7, Ottawa, Peel and York Region will move out of the modified Stage 2, which means gyms and indoor dining will once again be permitted in those regions, with capacity limits.

A week later on Nov. 14, Toronto also will be allowed to reopen gyms and indoor dining with certain restrictions in place.

The Ontario government also announced that it has developed a new Keeping Ontario Safe and Open FrameworkThe province says it ensures that public health measures are targeted, incremental and responsive to help limit the spread of COVID-19, while keeping schools and businesses open, maintaining health system capacity and protecting vulnerable people, including those in long-term care.

“It’s clear COVID-19 will be with us for a while, which is why we are putting in place a framework that will protect the health and safety of individuals and families, while avoiding broader closures across the province,” said Premier Ford. “This framework…will serve as an early warning system allowing us to scale up and scale back public health restrictions on a regional or community basis in response to surges and waves of COVID-19,” said Ford.

Ontario introduces colour coded levels of classification

The framework takes a gradual approach that categorizes public health unit regions into five levels: Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Lockdown being a measure of last and urgent resort. Each level outlines the types of public health and workplace safety measures for businesses and organizations. These include targeted measures for specific sectors, institutions and other settings.

“The health and wellbeing of Ontarians is our number one priority. This framework, informed by public health experts, data and the experiences of other jurisdictions, is focused on introducing less invasive measures earlier to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Minister Elliott. “We are committed to being transparent with Ontarians, businesses and local communities as we work together to keep Ontarians safe, while keeping our economy open.”

“This framework is critical to ensuring that public health measures are able to help slow the spread of the virus, while also supporting mental health and other social determinants of health,” said Dr. Williams. “The framework operates like a dimmer switch, enabling measures and restrictions to be increased and give individuals and families the information they need to adjust their activities and interactions based on local epidemiological data.”

To provide the utmost transparency, each public health unit will be classified according to current framework indicators. Proposed classifications based on data for the week of October 26, 2020 can be found below. These will be confirmed by the province on Friday, November 6, 2020 and become effective on Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. Final decisions on moving public health unit regions into the framework will be made by the government based on updated data and in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health and other health experts, and will be reviewed weekly.

Going forward, the government says it will continually assess the impact of public health measures applied to public health unit regions for 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods.

Supporting Ontario Businesses Affected by COVID-19 Public Health Measures

The Ontario government is making $300 million available to businesses required to close or significantly restrict services in areas subject to modified Stage 2 public health restrictions (Ottawa, Peel, Toronto, and York Region) or, going forward, in areas categorized as Control or Lockdown.

Rebates will cover the period of time that businesses are required to temporarily close or significantly restrict services as a result of being located in areas subject to the targeted modified Stage 2 public health restrictions or, going forward, in areas categorized as Control or Lockdown. The property tax rebates will be net of any federal support in respect of property taxes provided through the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), so that the rebate will cover costs beyond those covered by CERS.

Beginning November 16, 2020, eligible businesses will be able to apply for temporary property tax and energy cost rebates directly to the province through a single, online application portal. Many businesses should expect to receive their rebate payments within a few weeks of finalizing and submitting their completed application. Eligible businesses include restaurants, bars, gyms and cinemas.

“On Thursday, I’ll introduce Ontario’s 2020 Budget, the next phase of Ontario’s Action Plan,” said Minister Phillips. “It is a plan that will have three pillars. As we announced yesterday, the first is protect. The second pillar is support, because we know COVID-19 has brought severe challenges and economic difficulties to families and employers. Supporting businesses affected by necessary public health restrictions in regions experiencing a greater risk from COVID-19 is one way we are helping employers manage during these difficult times.”

Through Ontario’s Property Tax and Energy Cost Rebates program, the government is building on its collaboration with federal partners to ensure eligible businesses receive the financial help they need as a result of targeted provincial public health restrictions.

Public Health Unit Region Classifications

As of November 7, 2020, the province will transition public health unit regions to the new framework. The following proposed classifications for public health unit regions are based on data for the week of October 26, 2020. Updated data will be used for final review by the Chief Medical Officer of Health and approval by Cabinet on Friday, November 6, 2020.

Lockdown:

  • No public health unit regions

Red-Control:

  • No public health unit regions

Orange-Restrict:

  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit;
  • Ottawa Public Health;
  • Peel Public Health;
  • Toronto Public Health (may be delayed in entering Orange-Restrict level until November 14, 2020); and
  • York Region Public Health.

Yellow-Protect:

  • Brant County Health Unit;
  • City of Hamilton Public Health Services;
  • Durham Region Health Department; and
  • Halton Region Public Health.

Green-Prevent:

  • Algoma Public Health;
  • Chatham-Kent Public Health;
  • Grey Bruce Health Unit;
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health;
  • Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit;
  • Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit;
  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health;
  • Huron Perth Public Health;
  • Lambton Public Health;
  • Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit;
  • Middlesex-London Health Unit;
  • Niagara Region Public Health;
  • North Bay Parry Sound District;
  • Northwestern Health Unit;
  • Peterborough Public Health;
  • Porcupine Health Unit;
  • Public Health Sudbury & Districts;
  • Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services;
  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit;
  • Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit;
  • Southwestern Public Health;
  • Thunder Bay District Health Unit;
  • Timiskaming Health Unit;
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health; and
  • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

SOURCE Government of Ontario

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