ontario covid framework

Ontario releases new colour-coded framework for COVID-19 restrictions

The Ontario government released a brand new, colour-coded COVID-19 framework document today that outlines when both preventative and responsive measures should be lifted or introduced in different regions across the province.

The new document, titled the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework, categorizes public health unit regions into five levels based on their local COVID-19 situation: Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Lockdown (which is a measure of last and urgent resort).

ontario covid frameworkFor each level, there are specific public health and workplace safety measures for businesses and organizations, including food and drink establishments, sports and fitness facilities, event spaces, retail, personal care services, cinemas, performing arts facilities, and gaming and gambling establishments.

ontario covid framework"[The 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," reads a government release about the new guidelines. 

The province says the goal is to have every single region in the Green-Prevent level, and regions will be placed in different levels based on how many weekly cases there are per 100,000, the percentage of COVID-19 tests coming back positive, the number of new infections caused by each positive case (also know as the "Rt" number), the hospital and ICU capacity, and the capacity for case and contact tracing.

ontario covid frameworkStarting on Nov. 7, the government will transition public health unit regions across Ontario to the new framework.

Based on data from the week of Oct. 26, the province is proposing the following classifications: 


  • No public health unit regions


  • No public health unit regions


  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit;
  • Ottawa Public Health;
  • Peel Public Health;
  • Toronto Public Health (may be delayed in entering Orange-Restrict level until November 14, 2020); and
  • York Region Public Health.


  • Brant County Health Unit;
  • City of Hamilton Public Health Services;
  • Durham Region Health Department; and
  • Halton Region Public Health.


  • Algoma Public Health;
  • Chatham-Kent Public Health;
  • Grey Bruce Health Unit;
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health;
  • Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit;
  • Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit;
  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health;
  • Huron Perth Public Health;
  • Lambton Public Health;
  • Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit;
  • Middlesex-London Health Unit;
  • Niagara Region Public Health;
  • North Bay Parry Sound District;
  • Northwestern Health Unit;
  • Peterborough Public Health;
  • Porcupine Health Unit;
  • Public Health Sudbury & Districts;
  • Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services;
  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit;
  • Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit;
  • Southwestern Public Health;
  • Thunder Bay District Health Unit;
  • Timiskaming Health Unit;
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health; and
  • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

The province says these classifications are subject to adjustments ahead of the transition date, however, as updated data will be used for final review by the chief medical officer of health and approval by cabinet this coming Friday, Nov. 6.

ontario covid frameworkIf the classifications remain the same, Toronto will enter the Orange-Restrict level, which allows for the reopening of both indoor dining and fitness facilities, on Nov. 14 — one week after the other regions.

ontario covid frameworkIn response to the province's announcement, Toronto Mayor John Tory said Toronto Public Health will be reviewing the framework as well as "all the current data available on the pandemic in our city."

"I have been clear throughout that I want restaurants and gyms to open safely and stay open safely – safely being the key word. I continue to hope that will be possible in the days ahead," Tory said in a statement.

"I am pleased the Province has taken account of our challenging local context by offering us some extra time," the mayor continued.

"We will be working closely with Toronto Public Health to determine what we have to do to open doors while keeping Torontonians safe and healthy, including timing considerations, and we will address those matters tomorrow."

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