Everything You Need To Know About The Red Zones In Ontario
Everything just changed in Ontario, and most of the southern chunk of the province is facing new restrictions as early as midnight.
Doug Ford made an effort to convey the seriousness of the situation at a press conference but he was light on details.
We've asked you what your questions are about how moving in to the red or "control" zone will affect your day-to-day life, and we've found the answers.
Is It Another Lockdown?
No. We are not going back to everything shutting down. The red zone is the third of four stages in the province's COVID-19 response strategy.
What Is The Red Zone?
The red zone, officially known in Ontario as the control zone, is the last stage before a total lockdown, but most things are actually allowed to stay open.
It means that private indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 25. If it's a public event — a protest or a festival for instance — those numbers change to 50 indoors and 100 outdoors. Religious gatherings are limited to 30% capacity indoors (to a maximum of 50), and 100 people outdoors.
Spas and similar facilities are closed, but restaurants, stores, gyms, casinos, and bingo halls can remain open, with restrictions on how many people can be in them at once.
You can read the province's document on all the zones, including red, here.
Does It Mean We Will Have Specific Times When We Can Leave The House?
No. The red zones simply limit gatherings both indoors (to 10 people) and outdoors (to 25 people) and tell us that we need to continue wearing masks indoors, and maintain a physical distance of two metres at all times.
Will Gyms Be Open?
Yes, but just how open depends on where you live.
John Tory announced last week that Toronto would have extra restrictions on top of the provincial ones, and that included cancelling all indoor gym classes, but allowing 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors.
And if you live in Peel, which includes Mississauga and Brampton, you need to pre-register to join a fitness class; no walk-ins are allowed.
For Hamilton, Halton, and York, however, you can have fitness classes inside gyms (10 people), outdoors (25 people), or 10 people indoors using weights and other equipment.
Can We Still Go To The Grocery Store?
Yes, there have been no new restrictions on grocery shopping, though you must still maintain two-metre distance at all times, including in line-ups, and wear a facemask indoors. Some individual stores may limit their capacity, though, so look out for signs posted on doors and windows.
How Do The New Restrictions Affect Mississauga?
Mississauga is already in the red zone (see above), along with the rest of Peel Region. But as of midnight on November 12, there are extra restrictions on top of the provincial ones. Only people from the same household will be allowed to sit at the same table in restaurants, and wedding receptions are not allowed, and other celebrations in places of business — like event spaces — are forbidden.
You can read all the Peel-specific restrictions here.
How Long Will This Last?
The premier didn't put a date on it, though Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Wiliams said he would be giving new recommendations to the minister of health next week, which means things could change again.
The extra restrictions for Toronto have been set in place until December 12, and Peel's are on until at least November 23, at which point they may be renewed for another 14 days.