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Ontario unveils a new tiered system for restrictions, indoor dining to return

Last Updated Nov 3, 2020 at 5:52 pm EDT

Ontario Premier Doug Ford makes an announcement with Health Minister Christine Elliott during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Thursday, September 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

The Ford government has unveiled a new colour-coded, tiered system for imposing and lifting COVID-19 restrictions in Ontario.

The COVID-19 Response Framework, the province has introduced a colour-coded tiered system to apply to sector-specific cases.

The five levels of the COVID-19 Response Framework, which applies to sector-specific case, are:

  1. Prevent (standard measures)
  2. Protect (strengthened measures)
  3. Restrict (intermediate measures)
  4. Control (stringent measures)
  5. Lockdown (maximum measures)


Premier Doug Ford said Ottawa, Peel Region and York Region will be able to move into the ‘restrict’ level as of Saturday. Toronto will follow a week later on Nov. 14.

Under the first three levels that includes the restrict’ tier, indoor dining at bars and restaurants will be permitted in hotspots but with restrictions.

For example, the ‘restrict’ level would impose the following for restaurants and bars, and other food and drink establishments:

  • Indoor capacity of 50 people and four people will be allowed to sit together
  • Closure of strip clubs
  • Establishments to close at 10 p.m.
  • Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • No consumption of liquor between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m.
  • Screening patrons


This latest framework comes on a day where the province recorded its highest-ever COVID-19 case count of 1,050.

The province said the goal is to have every public health unit region in the “prevent” level.

The province said some of the aims of the new framework are to avoid potential more serious outbreaks, keep vulnerable populations safe and schools open. However, the levels in the framework don’t specifically mention restrictions to schools.

The province hopes to increase testing capacity to 100,000 per day by December and keep test positivity under three per cent. Ninety per cent of the cases followed up within 24 hours. Ontario only conducted around 25,300 tests on Monday.

Each tier has indicators for epidemiology, health system capacity and public health system capacity. For example, under ‘prevent’ level as an example, the weekly incidence rate has to be less than 10 per 100,000 with a per cent positivity rate of less than one per cent. There has to be adequate space for ICU and hospitalizations and contact management has to be done within 24-hours.

The new plan replaces the previous ones of stages 1, 2 and 3.


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