The Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health region is one of three in Ontario that will be released from the provincial Stay-at-Home order this week.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Monday, Feb. 8, 2021 that the government is moving back to a regional approach for COVID-19 Public Health restrictions, maintaining a lockdown in most public health regions in Ontario.
KFL&A, as well as neighbouring Public Health regions, Hastings-Prince Edward and Renfrew County, are exempt.
“Based on the improving local trends of key indicators, including lower transmission of COVID-19, improving hospital capacity, and available public health capacity to conduct rapid case and contact management… three regions will be moving back to the Framework at the Green-Prevent level on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. and will no longer be subject to the Stay-at-Home order,” said a statement from the Premier.
The Premier also announced that in-person retail shopping can resume in Grey-Lockdown areas of the province, at limited capacity.
“Our number one priority will always be protecting the health and safety of all individuals, families and workers across the province,” said Premier 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 Green-Prevent guidelines, social gatherings such as parties, dinners, or wedding receptions held in a private residences, backyards or parks are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
Organized public events in staffed business facilities, where physical distancing can be maintained, are restricted to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
Religious services and ceremonies at a venue other than a private dwelling are limited to 30 per cent of the room capacity indoors, or 100 people outdoors. Physical distancing must be maintained.
Restaurants require patrons to be seated, with two metres or an impermeable barrier between tables. Buffet service is not allowed. Face coverings are required except when eating or drinking. Contact tracing information for one patron per party is required. Night clubs are only permitted to operate as a restaurant or bar.
In-store retail shopping can resume. The government has introduced a new measure, “passive screening for patrons.” This means store owners must post signage asking people not to enter if they have COVID-19 symptoms. Fitting rooms must be limited to non-adjacent stalls.
Personal care service providers such as hair stylists, barbers and estheticians can resume operation.
Sports and recreational facilities, including gyms, can reopen. Patrons must maintain two metres of physical distancing unless engaged in sport. Face coverings are required except when exercising or playing sports. Exemptions exist for high performance athletes and parasports, and venue capacity limits apply.
KFL&A Public Health was last in the ‘Green-Prevent’ level of Public Health restrictions on Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020.
Timeline for the rest of Ontario
The government has proposed that the Stay-at-Home order will continue to apply to 28 public health regions until Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021. For Toronto, Peel and York regions, the Stay-at-Home order will continue to apply until Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. The Premier noted that final decisions will be subject to review of the trends in public health indicators at that time.
To support the province’s economic recovery, the government has updated the Framework to allow more flexibility for retail. Limited in-person shopping in Grey-Lockdown zones will be permitted with public health and safety measures, such as limiting capacity to 25 per cent in most retail settings.
“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 Health Minister Christine Elliott.
Due to the risk posed by new variants to the province’s pandemic response, Ontario is introducing an “emergency brake” to allow for immediate action if a public health unit region experiences rapid acceleration in COVID-19 transmission or if its health care system risks becoming overwhelmed. If this occurs, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, in consultation with the local medical officer of health, may advise immediately moving a region into Grey-Lockdown to interrupt transmission.
“While we are seeing our numbers trend in the right direction, our situation remains precarious as the variants of concern remain a serious risk,” said Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams.
“This is not a re-opening or a ‘return to normal’ and we must continue to limit close contact to our immediate households and stay at home except for essential reasons,” he added. “By continuing to follow all public health and workplace safety measures, we can continue to reduce the number of new cases and the strain on our health system.”