The never-ending stay order will be lifted on Wednesday for parts of eastern Ontario where many non-essential businesses will be allowed to reopen.
Next week, the province is expected to end the shelter order for five more areas in our region, and again, some businesses will be allowed to reopen – but not for the week in regions where restrictions are lifted.
On Monday, the province announced it would begin removing the locking restrictions in effect from Dec. 26, as well as an order to stay at home starting three weeks later.
But authorities are gradually easing restrictions, returning Heath units to previous units – but slightly modified – with the five-color COVID-19 control criteria, not all at once, but with the same rules.
Here is what is going to happen.
Issuance of provincial orders
Beginning Wednesday, the three health units west of Ottawa will be removed from the shelter and turned green: Hastings Prince Edward Public Health, Kingston, Frendonak and Lenox & Auddington Public Health and Renfrew County and District Health Division.
This means that most of their non-essential businesses can be reopened with less efficiency.
From Feb. 16, the province is expected to raise orders for the Eastern Ontario Health Division, the Leeds, Greenville and Lanark District Health Division and the Ottawa Public Health Lock and Home Stay. However, the color level at which health units are moving has not yet been announced, meaning it is not yet clear which businesses can reopen and under what rules.
The deregulation next week is not a final deal – if the trend of epidemics worsens quickly, the reopening will be delayed. The province has said it is prepared to tighten the rules as soon as possible if a regional case or hospital admission numbers are disturbed.
Allowed in the adjusted COVID-19 color scheme here, up to very few:
Gray: Outdoor remote collection limit 10 people; In religious ceremonies, including weddings and funerals, there may be up to 10 distant participants inside or outside; Drive-in movies and shows; Essential retail and ski hills can be reopened with restrictions.
Red: Gray, plus everything allowed in casinos, gyms and restaurants can bring in 10 people at once; Personal care services will reopen until customers wear the mask.
Orange: Red, and all indoor private meetings for up to 10 people and up to 25 people allowed outside; Organized, employee events can have up to 50 distant individuals inside and 100 people outside; Religious ceremonies can fill up to 30 percent of an indoor space; With karaoke coming back out of private rooms, play games without physical contact, in movie theaters and art shows, without limits.
Yellow: All that is allowed in orange, plus restaurants can raise their capacity as long as the tables are far away or there is a barrier between them, and six people will not be seated together; Multiplex theaters can have up to 50 people per screening room, not just 50 people on all screens.
Green: Everything is allowed on other levels, but there are no restrictions on restaurant hours or how many people can sit at one table; Nightclubs are still limited to serving food and drink, buffets are banned, there can be no physical contact for group games and steam rooms and sunrooms are closed.
These rules are often subtle and if there is any confusion people should follow the advice of their local health department.
Regardless of the five colors underneath, Ontarians are still asked to stay home as much as possible, to limit close contact with the people they live in, to wear masks as needed, and to travel only for essential reasons, especially when going from a high place to a low-lying area.