Consistent with the ever-changing nature of rules and regulations around COVID-19, the Province of Ontario has announced a rehauling of the COVID-19 alert framework we have become accustomed to (Stages 1-3), by way of the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework, effective Saturday November 7, 2020. What does this mean for businesses in Ontario today? Not much, unless you are situated in one of the current “hot spots” (not including Peel), in which case you may be seeing some lessening of restrictions, such as resumption of restricted indoor dining and expansion of some gym and sports facilities.
The new framework is colour coded (green, yellow, orange, red and grey) and is intended to be more easily understood. Like the previous system, it works with the public health regions and places them in 5 levels, the fifth being a full lockdown, like the one the Province experienced this spring. Moving between the levels is dependent on Epidemiology (weekly incidence rate, % positivity, outbreak trends, levels of community transmission and non-epidemiological linked cases stable), Health System Capacity (hospital and ICU) and Public Health System Capacity rates (case and contact follow up within 24 hours is adequate). This scheme is similar to ones introduced by other provinces, including the one Quebec introduced in September, but adds a level. The levels are broken down as follows:
GREEN is for PREVENT: Standard Measures that focus on education and awareness of public health and workplace safety measures in place. Restrictions reflect broadest allowance of activities in the former Stage 3, absent a widely available vaccine or treatment. Highest risk settings closed.
YELLOW is for PROTECT: Enhanced targeted enforcement, fines, and enhanced education to limit further transmission. Apply public health measures in high risk settings.
ORANGE is for RESTRICT: Implement enhanced measures, restrictions, and enforcement avoiding any closures.
RED is for CONTROL: Implement broader- scale measures and restrictions, across multiple sectors, to control transmission (the former modified Stage 2). Restrictions are the most severe available before wide scale business or organizational closure.
GREY is for FINAL STAGE LOCKDOWN: Implement wide scale measures and restrictions, including closures, to halt or interrupt transmission (the former Stage 1). Consider declaration of emergency.
Workplace screening measures, indoor workplace masking requirements and indoor public masking requirements are in effect in all levels.
Businesses may want to be proactive if Covid-19 numbers are rising in their region to be prepared for moving into a level with tighter restrictions.
See the full framework HERE, including specific rules and measures for Gatherings, Restaurants and Bars, Sports and Recreational Fitness, Meeting and Event Spaces, Retail, Personal Care Services, Casinos/Bingo Halls/Gaming Establishments, Cinemas and Performing Arts Facilities.
Find out what regions are in what colour HERE.
Does your organization that need help navigating Covid-19 related employment challenges? Reach out to one of the members of Siskinds’ Labour and Employment Group.