Regional Restrictions Continue to Change as Cases Climb


TORONTO — As case counts continue to climb, public-health measures have become something of a moving target across the country.

Below is a breakdown of some of the key restrictions currently in place across Canada.

Atlantic Canada
The ‘Atlantic bubble’ — encompassing New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador — remains largely intact, with the most notable restriction being on travel in and out of the bubble. Anyone entering the bubble is required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

However, with cases on the rise in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, P.E.I. Premier Dennis King indicated that changes to the Atlantic bubble may be necessary.

In October, Quebec extended ‘red-zone’ restrictions in place in Greater Montreal and Quebec City until November 23. And, last week, Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced there were no immediate plans to lift red-zone restrictions in the province’s high-transmission areas nor impose new lockdowns.

In these regions, gyms, bars and entertainment venues are closed, while restaurants are restricted to takeout and delivery. Most gatherings are also banned.

The Ontario government recently made updates to its Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework, lowering the thresholds for its restriction levels. The changes, which came into effect on November 16 (November 14 for the Toronto region), place Hamilton, Halton, Toronto and York regions under “red” alert.

The new framework is intended to take a gradual approach that includes introducing preventative measures earlier to help avoid broader closures and allow for additional public health and workplace-safety measures to be introduced or removed incrementally.

Under red-level restrictions, food-and-beverage establishments are limited to a maximum of 10 patrons for indoor dining, establishments must close at 10 p.m. and liquor sales are restricted to between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Table size is limited to four people and screening and contact information is required for diners.

Similar restrictions are in place for meeting-and-event spaces, with operating hours, liquor consumption and seating restrictions reflecting those in place for food-and-beverage establishments. Facilities are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people for outdoor gatherings.

Red-level restrictions also limit gym and fitness centres’ capacities to 10 people indoors and 25 people for outdoor classes. Face coverings are required except when exercising and the required spacing between patrons is increased to three metres.

Further, many personal-care services are restricted, with oxygen bars, steam rooms, saunas, whirlpools and hot tubs closed. Change rooms and showers are also closed and services requiring removal of face coverings are prohibited.

The province of Manitoba moved to the Critical level (red) on the #RestartMB Pandemic Response System on November 11. The restrictions include reducing social contacts and restriction of travel to and from northern Manitoba.

Retail businesses considered critical services are limited to 25-per-cent capacity, while all other retail businesses have been restricted to providing e-service, curbside pickup or delivery services. All personal-service businesses, as well as gyms and fitness centres, have been shut down.

Restaurants have also been forced to close on-site dining and are restricted to offering delivery, drive-thru and takeout.

New public-health measures came into effect on November 19 in Saskatchewan, which will be in place until December 17.

As part of the new measures, wearing a non-medical mask will now be required in all indoor public spaces in the province.

The province also indicated that the Ministry of Health will be consulting with the hospitality industry (restaurants, bars, casinos, et cetera), on continuing to mitigate the risk of transmission in their sectors. The ministry will also consult with athletic organizations and gyms to determine how guidelines can be enhanced.

Starting November 13, Alberta implemented new public-health measures in the face of rising cases.

Under the new measures, all restaurants, bars, lounges and pubs in regions under ‘enhanced’ status must cease liquor sales by 10 p.m. and close by 11 p.m. The restriction will remain in place until November 27.

A two-week ban was also put in place on indoor group-fitness classes, team-sport activities and group-performance activities in Edmonton and surrounding areas, Calgary and surrounding areas, Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, Red Deer and Lethbridge.

British Columbia
Earlier this month, the Province of British Columbia formally extended the provincial state of emergency through November 24, based on recommendations from its health and emergency-management officials.

The Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley have been ordered to significantly reduce social interactions. Under the current restrictions, restaurants can continue to operate as long as they have a COVID-19 safety plan and employee protocols in place. Guests are asked to only visit a restaurant with people in their household or core bubble and tables are limited to a maximum of six people. Previous baseline restrictions are also in place, which require alcohol service to end at 10 p.m.

Indoor group physical activities offered by businesses, recreation centres or other organizations have also been suspended for the duration of the new restrictions or until a new COVID-19 safety plan is approved by a health officer.

The Territories
As of Nov. 16, Nunavut entered a territory-wide two-week lockdown after seeing a rise in cases. Under these restrictions, all non-essential services and businesses, including schools, are closed or operating online.

Over the summer, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories established a ‘common travel area,’ allowing residents of both territories to travel freely between them. Anyone coming from outside must isolate for two weeks in either Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton or Yellowknife and, at the end of the isolation period, must receive a letter from a public-health officer declaring them safe to enter.

On November 10, the Northwest Territories extended its territory-wide Public Health Emergency through November 24.

On November 20, Yukon imposed stricter rules for travellers entering the territory. Everyone except critical-services workers will now be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in the territory. Residents of border areas and those exercising an Aboriginal or treaty right are exempt from the new restriction.

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