ONTARIO – Premier Doug Ford announced on Monday, Feb. 8 that most of the province will remain under a stay-at-home order for one more week until Feb. 16. The stay-at-home order went into effect nearly one month ago on Jan. 13 to help fight the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ford also announced adjustments to restrictions placed on businesses. Many retail businesses in the province were forced to close when Ontario entered a lockdown on Boxing Day of 2020, Dec. 26.
“Our number one priority will always be protecting the health and safety of all individuals,families and workers across the province,” said Ford. “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.”
Under the adjusted framework, businesses that are in a health unit region that is in the “grey zone” of the COVID-19 management levels can re-open at 25 per cent capacity as well as wearing a facemask and maintaining physical distancing.
Additionally, regions in the grey zone can have outdoor gatherings of up-to 10 people, with restrictions, such as masks and physical distancing.
Currently, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region which covers Cornwall, the United Counties of SD&G and Prescott-Russell is in the “red zone” of the COVID-19 management levels. Health units in the “grey zone” are considered to be in lockdown.
The province is introducing a so-called “emergency break” that will allow Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and the local medical officer of health to move a health unit into the grey zone immediately if cases begin to rise rapidly.
“While we have seen some progress in our fight against COVID-19, the situation in our hospitals remains precarious and the new variants pose a considerable threat to all of us,” said Minister of Health Christine Elliott. “As we cautiously and gradually transition out of the provincewide shutdown, we have developed an emergency brake system giving us the flexibility to contain community spread quickly in a specific region, providing an extra layer of protection.”