Additional Public Health Measures for York Region

Published on October 19, 2020

We are seeing alarming public health trends with the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 rising, hospitalization rates are growing, and community outbreaks are entering our nursing homes and vulnerable congregate settings.

In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Public Health Measures Table, and local medical officers of health and other health experts, the government introduced additional health measures for York Region.

This public health region will be subject to modified Stage 2 restrictions for a minimum of 28 days and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

The number of cases and hospitalizations in York Region are currently trending upwards and further action is required to help stop the spread of the virus in the community. From October 3 to October 9, 2020 York Region's case rate increased by 49 percent to 38.7 per 100,000 people, above the provincial average. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the region have doubled over the past week. In addition, the rate of infection is increasing; the positivity rate is 2.77 per cent, well above the high-alert threshold of 2.5 per cent. Since October 3, York Region has seen the total number of patients requiring an ICU bed jump from 63 to 72, and the number of patients requiring a ventilator went from 19 to 25 across the region.

Modelling and other evidence has shown that gathering in indoor, in closed spaces with close contact can significantly contribute to COVID-19 transmission. Community spread is now reaching our most vulnerable, those living in long-term care homes, retirement home and other congregate settings, resulting in many significant outbreaks.

We need to protect each other, especially the most vulnerable, by making strong and decisive action in these settings — even 28 days of new public health measures can make a big difference to stop the spread quickly and effectively, and may also help limit the severity of the second wave before the December holidays.

New Public Health Measures for York Region:

Effective Monday, October 19, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., York Region will join Ottawa, Peel and Toronto public health regions in a modified Stage 2, as a result of their trends in public health indicators, including higher than average rates of COVID-19 transmission. 

Measures under this modified Stage 2 include:

  • Reducing limits for all social gatherings and organized public events to a maximum of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors where physical distancing can be maintained. The two limits may not be combined for an indoor-outdoor event;
  • Prohibiting indoor food and drink service in restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, including nightclubs and food court areas in malls;
  • Closing of:
  • Indoor gyms and fitness centres (i.e., exercise classes and weight and exercise rooms);
  • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments;
  • Indoor cinemas, performing arts centres and venues, (except for rehearsing or performing a recorded or broadcasted performance subject to conditions, including no spectators)
  • Spectator areas in racing venues;
  • Interactive exhibits or exhibits with high risk of personal contact in museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, etc.;
  • Prohibiting personal care services where face coverings must be removed for the service (e.g. makeup application, beard trimming);
  • Prohibiting real estate open houses (permitting in-person showing by appointments only)
  • Reducing the capacity limits for:
  • Tour and guide services to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors
  • In-person teaching and instruction (e.g. cooking class) to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, with certain exemptions, including for schools, universities, colleges of applied arts and technology, private career colleges, the Ontario Police College, etc.
  • Meeting and event spaces to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors with limited exemptions, including for government operations and the delivery of government services; and
  • Limiting team sports to training sessions (no games or scrimmages).

Schools, child care centres, and places of worship will remain open in these communities and must continue to follow the public health measures in place. Before-school and after-school programs will also continue to be exempt from these new restrictions and will remain open.

Advice for all Ontarians:

In addition to the measures being implemented in the Ottawa, Peel, Toronto and York Regions, the Chief Medical Officer of Health continues to remind all Ontarians to:

  • Limit trips outside of home, except for essential purposes such as work where it is not possible to work from home, school, grocery shopping, medical appointments, and outdoor healthy physical activity;
  • Stay home if unwell, even with mild symptoms;
  • Limit travel to other regions in the province, especially from higher transmission to lower transmission areas, for essential purposes only;
  • Practise physical distancing of at least two metres with those outside your household;
  • Wear a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so;
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly; and
  • Follow social gathering and organized public event limits.

Support for small businesses ($300 million):

As these necessary public health measures come at a cost to small businesses, Ontario has planned to and will make $300 million available to assist significantly affected businesses with fixed costs, including property taxes, hydro and natural gas bills.

This support will be provided by the province and will be made available in any region where these measures are necessary. More details will be released in the coming days.

This funding builds on the actions the government has taken to support small businesses throughout the pandemic, including putting in place a temporary moratorium on commercial evictions, making $60 million available for a $1,000 grant for small businesses to offset the cost of personal protective equipment (PPE), and exploring options to permanently allow restaurants and bars to include alcohol with food as part of a takeout or delivery order.

Ontario will build on the historic collaboration with the Government of Canada to ensure workers are protected, businesses are supported, and that this support arrives as soon as possible.

For news release, click https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/58842/ontario-moving-additional-region-to-modified-stage-2