Non-essential retailers in lockdown zones can reopen with 25 per cent capacity, province says
NON-ESSENTIAL RETAILERS IN Ontario will be allowed to reopen at limited capacity, the provincial government said Monday, as three public health units are set to see Covid-19 restrictions loosened.
The Ontario government has extended the stay-at-home order for most of the province but will begin to transition back to the tiered colour-coded shutdown system through a regional approach as the gradual reopening of the economy begins.
Premier Doug Ford made the announcement on Monday at Queen’s Park, saying that while the state of emergency will expire in Ontario on Tuesday night, the stay-at-home order will stay in effect for most of the province until February 16. (In Toronto, Peel Region and York Region, the stay-at-home order will remain until at least February 22. In Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Public Health, Hasting Prince Edward Public Health and Renfrew County and District Health Unit, the stay-at-home order will stay in effect until February 10).
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The tiered system is what Ontario was using before the entire province went into lockdown on Dec. 26. The green, yellow, orange, red, black, and grey levels all come with various levels of restrictions.
The government said final decisions will be made prior to the Februay 16 and February 22 dates for the remainder of the province as to whether the stay-at-home order can be safely lifted.
If the government deems it safe enough to lift the stay-at-home order on those dates, regions would be placed into the colour-coded system at a level that aligns with their current public health trends.
Regions that are placed into the grey level of the province’s colour-coded system will be allowed to resume in-person shopping with capacity limits of 25 per cent in most retail settings.
There will be a 50 per cent capacity limit for supermarkets and other stores that primarily sell groceries, convenience stores and pharmacies.
The 25 per cent capacity limit will be on all other retail, including discount and big box retailers, liquor stores, hardware stores and garden centres.
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Personal care services must remain closed under the grey level.
Under the grey level, 10 people will be allowed to gather outdoors with physical distancing in effect.
“Our number one priority will always be protecting the health and safety of all individuals, families and workers across the province,” Ford said in a statement on Monday. “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.”
The government said any regions that have a “rapid increase in COVID-19 transmission or if its health-care system risks becoming overwhelmed” will be immediately placed back into lockdown to interrupt transmission.