New colour-coded framework for COVID-19 measures
EASTERN ONTARIO — The province’s incoming colour-coded system of designating regional pandemic rules initially placed Eastern Ontario’s five eastern counties into the same “orange-restrict” category as Ottawa when announced earlier this week. But the Ontario government today eased the Eastern Ontario Health Unit area into “yellow-protect” in advance of the new framework coming into force at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow (Nov. 7).
Local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis predicted Wednesday that the pre-emptive shift was forthcoming, saying the province was reevaluating the designation and would make the announcement that ultimately came today.
Below, Dr. Paul Roumeliotis on Nov. 6 acknowledges the provincial announcement that has placed Eastern Ontario into the yellow-protect category.
The yellow-protect label effectively keeps COVID-19 restrictions the same as they already were in Eastern Ontario, under the stages and “modified” stages jargon that previously applied in Ontario. Had the region fallen into the tougher orange-restrict category, tighter rules, such as maximum restaurant table seating of four, would have applied.
“There won’t be too many changes to what we have right now,” assured Dr. Roumeliotis, who is rescinding his latest Section 22 Order — set to become redundant — at the same time as the framework comes into force. The outgoing Section 22 Order had applied to Owners/Operators of Banquet Halls, Food and Drink Establishments, Sports and Recreational Facilities, and Personal Care Services — whose restrictions now originate with the province instead of the local health unit.
“The new framework gives us the ability to respond in a more nimble manner to the situation on the ground,” said the doctor, who has also likened the system to an accordion. “It will serve as an early warning system that will allow us to either scale up or scale back our public health measures and restrictions on a regional or community basis in response to surges and waves of COVID-19.”
The framework categorizes public health unit regions into five levels: Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Lockdown being a “measure of last and urgent resort,” according to the EOHU. Each level outlines the types of public health and workplace safety measures required for businesses and organizations. These include targeted measures for specific sectors, institutions and other settings.
Each public health unit is classified according to the framework indicators. Final decisions on the classification of public health unit regions are 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. A region’s status will be reviewed weekly.
Below, Dr. Paul Roumeliotis explains the colour-coded system Nov. 4.