November 5, 2020
Tuesday’s announcement of the Ontario government’s Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework ensures that public health measures are targeted, incremental and responsive to help limit the spread of COVID-19, while keeping schools and businesses open, maintaining health system capacity and protecting vulnerable people, including those in long-term care.
The Framework categorizes public health unit regions into one of five categories depending on the level of COVID-19 infection in the community. The level of COVID-19 infection in the community is determined by the rate of new cases during a two week period, the percent of positive COVID-19 tests, outbreaks in long-term care, health system capacity, and public health capacity.
Each of the Framework Categories includes the types of measures put in place for businesses and organizations, specific sectors, institutions and other settings (see page 9 in the Framework document).
- Green = Prevent – All public health precautions are in place to prevent COVID-19 transmission, and all activities listed in Stage 3, Reopening Ontario are allowed.
- Yellow = Protect – Green level plus enhanced targeted enforcement and some restrictions to decrease opportunities for transmission to occur.
- Orange = Restrict – Yellow level plus further restrictions.
- Red = Control – Orange level plus broader scale measures and restrictions across multiple sectors.
- Lockdown – Implement wide-scale measures and restrictions, including closures.
The Framework Category for each Public Health Unit region will be confirmed by the province on Friday, November 6, 2020 and become effective on Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 12:01am. The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit region has been identified in the initial document as being in the Green/Prevent level. If this is maintained then it means there are no added restrictions to our region because of this announcement.
Going forward, decisions on moving public health unit regions between Framework Categories will be made by the government based on current data and, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local Medical Officers of Health and other health experts. The government will assess the impact of public health measures applied to public health unit regions for 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods to decide if a change in Category is needed.
Along with the framework, the provincial government has provided access to information about COVID-19 on the Ontario website. This includes local cases by public health unit regions, and for Ontario the total number of cases, resolved cases, deaths, and tests completed with the number positive. The province will continue to add data sets as they become available. This information will better help businesses, organizations and local communities access key information to prepare in advance for any changes in their region. The updated site mostly shows Ontario data but our local website is still the best way to see local data.
If the provincial government changes the category for Leeds, Grenville and Lanark, the Health Unit will alert the community and affected sectors about the changes that may need to be made. For now, we need to stay COVID SMART by staying home when sick and getting tested for COVID-19 when it’s recommended, keeping 2 metres apart from others outside the household, avoiding gatherings with close contact, wearing a properly fitting face covering/mask, avoiding touching common surfaces, and performing regular hand washing/sanitizing.