Southwestern Ontario emerges from lockdown

Red Restrict Ontario COVID-19 Framework. Image courtesy of Government of Ontario.

The weather may not give that impression, but many area businesses can reopen starting Tuesday morning.

Effective midnight Monday, the province of Ontario’s COVID-19 lockdown and stay-at-home order have each been lifted for all of southwestern Ontario, including Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent. The area is now under the red, or control classification, which is still the most rigid without a lockdown in place.

This means that retail stores can reopen for in-person business, but with capacity limits and strict COVID-19 control guidelines in place. Supermarkets, pharmacies, and convenience stores may now operate at 75 per cent capacity. Other big-box stores and other retail outlets are now limited to 50 per cent capacity.

Restaurants and bars can now reopen for in-person dining, with a capacity of ten people at a time and no more than four at a table. Take-out, drive-thru, and curbside pickup are also being offered, and residents are still encouraged to take advantage.

Beer and wine sales at The Beer Store, LCBO, or certain grocery stores can take place between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., regardless of store hours.

Indoor gatherings are limited to five people, with 25 outdoors. For religious services, weddings, and funerals, capacity is limited to 30 per cent indoors and 100 people outdoors.

Areas that are under “red-control” will remain there for two weeks, at which time provincial and local health officials will reevaluate COVID-19 trends with the hope of moving a region up, or keeping it where it is.

All of Ontario’s public health regions have been removed from the grey-lockdown mode except for four, Toronto, York, Peel, and North Bay-Parry Sound.

Complete information on the red-control classification can be found on the province’s official website.