Today after weeks of prodding from business owners and the media the Ontario Government has released the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework. It essentially tells businesses the exact criteria that will be used to determine whether to increase or decrease operating restrictions due to COVID 19.
Said Premier Ford. “This framework, developed in consultation with our health experts, will serve as an early warning system allowing us to scale up and scale back public health restrictions on a regional or community basis in response to surges and waves of COVID-19. By introducing public health measures sooner, we can keep this deadly virus at bay, bend the curve and reclaim a little more of our normal lives.”
Described as more like a dimmer switch than an on-off switch, the framework takes 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. It categorizes public health unit regions into five colour coded levels:
- Full Lockdown
Under these criteria both Hamilton and Halton are in the Yellow (Protect) status. Niagara is in the Green (Prevent) status.
Each level outlines the types of public health and workplace safety measures for businesses and organizations. These include targeted measures for specific sectors, institutions and other settings.
As the province continues to expand access to real-time data, enhancements are also being made to Ontario.ca/coronavirus, Ontario’s one-stop shop for information on COVID-19. Information about the spread of the virus, and public health and health system capacity will now be available on the website. This includes local cases by public health unit regions, the total number of cases, resolved cases, deaths, and tests completed and how many are positive. The province will continue to add data sets as they become available, such as sources of outbreaks as a subset of overall cases. This information will better help businesses, organizations and local communities access key information to prepare in advance for any changes in their region.
These colour coded levels will be confirmed by the province on Friday, November 6, 2020 and become effective on Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. Final decisions on moving public health unit regions into the framework will be made by the government based on updated data and in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health and other health experts, and will be reviewed weekly.
Going forward, the government will continually assess the impact of public health measures applied to public health unit regions for 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods.
The government documents that out line exactly what the various colour codes means in terms of how business can operate can be found here.