Newmarket and the rest of York Region will be released from lockdown and returned to the red-control zone at midnight on Monday morning, the province announced this afternoon.
It's the decision that York Region medical officer of health Dr. Karim Kurji and regional council had been advocating for the government to make.
The stay-at-home order will be extended for two additional weeks in Toronto and Peel Region, which is what public health officials there asked the government to do, as well.
Returning to the red-control zone means that many small businesses will be able to reopen for the first time in many weeks.
Newmarket Mayor John Taylor said he is breathing a sigh of relief and is pleased that the government listened to Kurji and regional council.
"This is what we expected would occur, and we appreciate the province working with us to safely reopen the economy in York Region. Our medical officer of health has called for this direction, and he has guided us well and safely for decades, and I have great trust in him," said Taylor.
"But the red-control zone still has a very strict set of requirements attached to it, and York Region is considering (using its own powers) to add more restrictions in the coming week."
According to provincial rules, an area qualifies to be in the red control zone if:
- Its weekly incident rate is 40 per 100,000 or more — York's is currently 74 per 100,000
- Has a per cent positivity of 2.5 per cent or more — York's positivity rate is 2.2 per cent
- Has an Rt value of 1.2 or more - York's is 0.92
Ontario's chief officer of health, Dr. David Williams, said York's improving infection numbers are enough to allow it out of lockdown, but people are still advised to stay at home as much as possible.
"While the health indicators have improved enough to allow us to return an additional region to the framework, we are not yet at the point where we can safely transition back the remainder of the province," said Williams.
"Everyone is strongly advised to continue staying at home, avoid social gatherings, only travel between regions for essential purposes, and limit close contacts to your household or those you live with regardless of which level of the framework you are in," he added.
Town of Newmarket services and facilities that are currently closed or cancelled will not immediately resume the week of Feb. 22, as the town continues to finalize plans for the safe reopening of facilities, amenities and programs, according to a statement. The town will provide an update on the overall plans and timelines for reopening next week.
Outdoor recreation activities that are currently open like skating at Riverwalk Commons and other community outdoor rinks, pickleball (Quaker Park) and tennis (Keith Davis Tennis Centre - outdoor) will remain open with existing health and safety measures in place. For more information on what is currently open and closed in Newmarket, visit newmarket.ca/reopen.
Here are some of the rules in the new red control zone:
- Essential stores, including grocery stores, supermarkets and pharmacies can operate at 75 per cent maximum capacity.
- Other stores can open provided at 50 per cent maximum capacity.
Malls can open provided that food courts remain closed, and all lines into stores are physically distanced.
Restaurants, bars, and other food and drink establishments are allowed to open for indoor dining provided they meet some conditions:
- Limit of 10 people at one time
- No more than four people per table
- Outdoor dining permitted
- No buffets
- All patrons must be seated unless going to the washroom, paying, picking up an order
- All tables need to be two metres apart or have a plexiglass barrier between them
- Screening and contact information required
Personal care services
Services such as hair and nail salons are allowed to reopen and provide services that do not require someone to take off a face mask.
Social gatherings of five people are allowed indoors and up to 25 people outdoors.
Libraries are allowed to open provided the materials are sanitized and quarantined before being lent out again.
Community centres and other multi-purpose buildings can open for limited indoor fitness (provided they follow the rules for gyms, see below), outdoor sports, day camps, to allow people to use the pool.
Gymnasiums and other fitness businesses are allowed to open provided that:
- Every patron must have an appointment for no longer than 90 minutes
- 10 people maximum inside the facility and at classes
- Contact info is taken and maintained for a month
- Group sessions are classes and not a sport
- No team sports unless it's a practice session for an organized team and not an actual game.
- No spectators are allowed
- All equipment must be disinfected after use
- Everyone must be physically distanced
The hills are open, as are baseball diamonds, soccer fields, downhill skiing, ice rinks, horse riding, skate parks, batting cages, trails and playgrounds. But everyone must stay two metres apart and wear masks.
Driving instruction will be allowed to resume with one student and one instructor, both of whom must wear masks at all times.
Theatres and cinemas
Concert venues, theatres and cinemas all remain closed.
Museums, zoos, science centres and similar facilities can open, but interactive exhibits are closed.