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North Bay, Parry Sound to move to red-control zone of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework March 8

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: South African COVID-19 variant identified in North Bay, Ont. outbreak' Coronavirus: South African COVID-19 variant identified in North Bay, Ont. outbreak
The South African variant of COVID-19 has been confirmed in an outbreak in North Bay, Ont., which has seen 20 confirmed cases with a variant of concern. The community has seen an outbreak at an apartment building with at least 18 confirmed variant cases – Feb 14, 2021

The region that falls under the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit will move into the red-control zone of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework on March 8.

It is on that day that the province’s stay-at-home order will be lifted in the region and the local economy will be permitted to reopen with restrictions.

The decision was made in consultation with the local medical officer of health and was based on the latest trends in public health indicators and local context and conditions.

Read more: Toronto, Peel Region moving to grey lockdown restrictions under Ontario’s COVID-19 framework

“Our government is taking a safe and cautious approach to returning to the framework and due to our progress, all regions of the province will soon be out of the province-wide shutdown,” Ontario health minister Christine Elliott said in a statement.

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“Despite this positive step forward, a return to the framework is not a return to normal. As we continue vaccinating more Ontarians, it remains critical for everyone to continue to follow public health measures and stay home as much as possible to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities.”

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 outbreak in North Bay, Ontario linked to new variant' COVID-19 outbreak in North Bay, Ontario linked to new variant
COVID-19 outbreak in North Bay, Ontario linked to new variant – Feb 10, 2021

The Ontario government said modelling data shows the number of new COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations have decreased across the province.

Despite improving numbers, the government said people’s actions in the coming weeks will be critical in stopping the spread of emerging COVID-19 variants that are more contagious than earlier strains of the virus.

“While all regions have returned to the framework, everyone must remain vigilant to help prevent any further increases in transmission,” Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, said in a statement Friday.

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“The best defense against the virus and all of its variants of concern remains continuing to stay at home, avoiding social gatherings, only travelling outside of your community for essential purposes, and limiting close contacts to your household or those you live with.”

Here’s what you can and can’t do under Ontario’s red – control level of restrictions:

Cannabis stores

Cannabis stores can be open.

Casinos, bingo halls, gaming

Casinos, bingo halls and gaming facilities can operate with caps of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors so long as physical distancing can be maintained.

Table games are banned.

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Liquor can only be sold and served between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., and consumption of alcohol is banned between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m.

Face coverings must be worn except when eating and drinking.

Facilities will be required to record contact information.

Cinemas, movie theatres, performing arts facilities

These facilities are closed, except for drive-in cinemas. Rehearsals or performances being broadcast are allowed without spectators, and performers and employees must be two metres apart. Singers and musicians playing brass and wind instruments must be separated by impermeable barriers.

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Meeting and event spaces

Venues can operate with caps of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors as long as physical distancing can be maintained.

The facilities must be closed between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Liquor can only be sold and served between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

A maximum of four people can be seated together.

Face coverings must be worn except when eating and drinking.

Music must be kept to as close to a normal conversation level as possible.

Contact information must be collected and screening is required.

Personal care services

Oxygen bars, steam rooms, saunas, bathhouses and other “adult venues” must be closed. Sensory deprivation pods also are largely banned with limited exceptions.

If a service requires removal of face coverings, it won’t be allowed.

Restaurants, bars, cafes

Establishments can operate with a cap of 10 people indoors so long as physical distancing can be maintained and screening of customers is conducted. Outdoor dining, takeout, delivery and drive-through businesses can operate.

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Buffet-style restaurants aren’t allowed to open.

For people who want to line up outside to get inside, they must wear face coverings and stay two metres apart.

The facilities must be closed between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Liquor can only be sold and served between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

A maximum of four people can be seated together.

Face coverings must be worn except when eating and drinking. Employees must wear personal protective equipment and eye protection if they’re coming within customers who don’t have face coverings.

Music must be kept to as close to a normal conversation level as possible. Dancing, singing and live music is banned.

Night clubs and strip clubs can only operate as restaurants and bars.

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Ontario pharmacies added to COVID-19 vaccine rollout – Mar 4, 2021

Schools and post-secondary institutions

Schools and daycare facilities will be allowed to remain open in accordance with previous reopening plans and adherence to evolving public health guidelines.

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Post-secondary institutions can stay open for in-person instruction only for programs that require it (for example clinical medical training, trades etc.). Virtual learning will be required for all other situations.

Shopping and retail

In-person shopping can occur, but supermarkets, convenience stores, pharmacies and other stores primarily selling groceries must cap the number of customers to 75 per cent of the approved capacity. For all other retail and big-box stores, there is a cap of 50 per cent capacity.

Safety plans, screening information and capacity limits need to be posted in a visible location.

Fitting rooms will need to be reduced so people are not changing in adjacent stalls.

READ MORE: Ontario government to ramp up rapid testing in schools, LTCs and some workplaces in coming weeks

For malls with indoor food courts, there will be a cap of 10 customers.

Music must be reduced to a normal conversation level “if possible.”

Customers will need to maintain a two-metre distance and wearing face coverings in accordance with the existing regulations.

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For people who want to line up outside to get inside, they must wear face coverings and stay two metres apart.

Curbside pick-up and delivery will continue to be allowed.

Social gatherings, religious services, weddings, funerals

Organized public events and social gatherings are capped at five people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

For religious services, ceremonies and weddings, there will be an indoor cap of 30 per cent of the approved capacity and 100 people outdoors. Physical distancing must be adhered to.

Sports and recreation fitness

Two metres of physical distance must be kept at all times. The spacing must be increased to three metres in weight training and exercise equipment areas as well as during exercise and fitness classes.

Factoring in physical distancing, there is a cap of 10 people in indoor areas with weight and exercise equipment and during indoor classes. For outside classes, there’s a cap of 25 people. No spectators are allowed except for parents or guardians of participants under the age of 18.

Team sports, games and scrimmage are banned except for training.

All activities where people might come within two metres are banned and no contact is allowed during team or individual sports. However, there are exemptions for high-performance athletes and for parasports.

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READ MORE: Ontario begins phased reopening Wednesday, majority of regions to remain in lockdown

For people visiting facilities, their visits must be capped at 90 minutes and face coverings must be worn except while exercising. Music must be lowered to regular conversation levels to prevent shouting.

Contact information must be gathered and reservations will be required. Screening of participants will need to be done and associated safety plans must be posted in a visible location.

— With files from Global News’ Nick Westoll

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