TORONTO — The Ontario government unveiled its new COVID-19 restriction model yesterday. The new system would place each of Ontario’s public-health units into one of five different colour-coded categories based on the level of virus spread within their communities and the capacity of their hospitals.
The new framework will allow health officials to ramp up and roll back restrictions in given regions depending on the degree of virus spread.
Under the plan, the four regions that are currently in a modified version of Stage 2 — Toronto, Peel, Ottawa and York — would be joined by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit in the orange category, dubbed “Restrict” and would face “intermediate measures” to control the spread of COVID-19.
Premier Doug Ford said Ottawa, Peel and York will all be formally moved into the orange category as of 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, allowing gyms to re-open and bars and restaurants to resume indoor dining with capacity limits in place. Toronto will remain in a modified version of Stage 2 for another week after Mayor John Tory asked “for a little more time,” Ford said.
Under the plan, restaurants and bars will be allowed to serve customers indoors but will be expected to stop serving liquor at 9 p.m. and close their doors at 10 p.m. They will also have to seat no more than four people at a table and limit the overall capacity inside to no more than 50 people.
“This planning framework provides structure. It will help inform decisions on regional and province-wide public-health measures based on the data we are seeing. The framework will also provide more certainty to businesses, families and workers,” Ford said during a briefing yesterday. “It will help us introduce preventative measures early to slow the spread early interventions that will help us avoid more restrictive measures like the shutdowns and lockdowns we’re now seeing in more and more countries around the world.”