red zone restrictions

Here are the rules and restrictions for red zone regions in Ontario

When will Toronto go into the red zone? What does that mean in terms of restrictions? How much longer will this lockdown last? Again, I ask you, WHEN WILL TORONTO GO INTO THE RED ZONE?

If you happen to be psychic and know the answer to the latter (and first) question, get at me but, more likely, only time will tell when Canada's largest city exits the grey-lockdown zone of Ontario's modified COVID-19 framework and goes into a less-restrictive level.

What we do know is that Toronto Mayor John Tory is as eager as the rest of us to go from grey to red, and said earlier this week that he's hoping that the shift will happen "sooner than later."

The earliest date this could happen, by the province's own guidelines, is March 22 — though we have been seeing the government make some exceptions to its two week reevaluation rule.

Residents of the city are watching the situation closely because, well, not a whole lot changed for Toronto when stay-at-home orders were lifted on Monday and we reentered the framework (save for modestly-increased outdoor gathering limits and retail stores reopening at 25 per cent capacity.)

The red zone is decidedly more exciting in that it will finally allow the reopening of restaurants, bars, cafes and hair salons — all of which have now been closed in the city for more than three months.

To leave grey, Toronto Public Health needs to post a weekly instance rate of 40 per 100,000 people or lower. As of the most recent seven-day rolling average, we're at 76.9.

We have until March 22, when our place in the framework is reevaluated, to improve the COVID-19 situation (though, to be fair, the province has shown some leniency with its whole two-week evaluation period thing.)

If at that time (or whenever it is Toronto leaves escapes the grey zone), we'll likely go straight into red — so best to brush up now on what that means in terms of daily life.

Here are the restrictions and rules for red zones in Ontario under the province's modified COVID-19 response framework.

Organized public events, social gatherings and wedding, funeral and religious services, rites and ceremonies
  • Limits of five people indoors, 25 people outdoors for all organized public events and social gatherings, where physical distancing can be maintained
  • Limits of 30 per cent indoors and 100 people outdoors for religious services rites or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services, where physical distancing can be maintained (applies in any venue other than a private dwelling)
Restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments
  • Capacity limit of 10 patrons seated, where physical distancing can be maintained
  • Outdoor dining, take out, drive through, and delivery permitted, including alcohol
  • No buffet style service
  • Line-ups and patrons congregating outside venues managed by venue; two metres distance and face covering required
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • Require patrons to be seated; two metres minimum or impermeable barrier required between tables
  • Limit of four people may be seated together
  • Require contact information for all seated patrons
  • Face coverings required except when eating or drinking only
  • Personal protective equipment, including eye protection required when is a worker must come within two metres of another person who is not wearing a face covering
  • Establishments must be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • No consumption of liquor permitted between 10 p.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Dancing, singing and the live performance of music is prohibited
  • Limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible
  • Night clubs and strip clubs only permitted to operate as restaurant or bar
  • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request
Sports and recreational fitness facilities
  • Maintain two metres physical distancing at all times
  • Increase spacing between patrons to three metres in areas where there are weights or exercise equipment and in exercise and fitness classes
  • Capacity limits, where physical distancing can be maintained of 10 people in indoor areas with weights and exercise machines, 10 people in all indoor classes, 25 people in outdoor classes
  • No spectators permitted, however each person under 18 may be accompanied by one parent or guardian
  • Team sports must not be practiced or played except for training (no games or scrimmage)
  • Activities that are likely to result in individuals coming within two metres of each other are not permitted; no contact permitted for team or individual sports
  • Exemptions for high performance athletes and parasport
  • Patrons may only be in the facility for 90 minutes except if engaging in a sport
  • Limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible; measures to prevent shouting by both instructors and members of the public
  • Face coverings required except when exercising
  • Require contact information for all members of the public that enter the facility
  • Require reservation for entry; one reservation for teams
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request
Meeting and event spaces
  • Capacity limit for the venue, where physical distancing can be maintained of 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors
  • Establishments must be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • No consumption of liquor permitted between 10 p.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Face coverings required except when eating or drinking only
  • Require contact information for all seated patrons
  • Limit of four people may be seated together
  • Limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request
Retail 
  • 75 per cent capacity limit for supermarkets and other stores that primarily sell groceries, convenience stores, pharmacies
  • 50 per cent for all other retail, including discount and big box retailers, liquor stores, cannabis stores, hardware stores and garden centres
  • Stores must post capacity limit publicly
  • Stores must have passive screening for patrons (for example, posting signs outside the store front about not entering if you have COVID-19covid 19 symptoms)
  • This does not apply to indoor malls, which are required to actively screen their customers before they enter the mall. Malls can use the patron screening tool to help meet this requirement
  • Stores within the malls subject to appropriate retail measures
  • Fitting rooms must be limited to non-adjacent stalls
  • Line-ups and patrons congregating outside venues managed by venue; two metres distance required inside and outside; face covering also required while in line
  • Limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible
Malls specifically
  • Maximum number of patrons permitted to be seated indoors in mall food court is 10
  • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request
Personal care services
  • Oxygen bars, steam rooms, saunas, bath houses and other adult venues, closed
  • Sensory deprivation pods closed (some exceptions)
  • Services requiring removal of face coverings prohibited
  • Require contact information from all patrons
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request
Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments
  • Capacity limit of 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors for the venue, where physical distancing can be maintained
  • Table games are prohibited
  • Face coverings required except when eating or drinking only
  • Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • No consumption of liquor permitted between 10 p.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Require contact information from all patrons
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request
Cinemas
  • Closed, except for drive-in cinemas, rehearsal or performing a recorded or broadcasted event, with restrictions
  • Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any other performers by plexiglass or other impermeable barrier
  • Performers and employees must maintain two metres physical distance except for purposes of the performance
  • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request
Performing arts facilities
  • Closed to spectators
  • Rehearsal or performing a recorded or broadcasted event permitted, with restrictions
  • Performers and employees must maintain two metres physical distance except for purposes of the performance
  • Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any other performers by plexiglass or other impermeable barrier
  • Drive-in performances permitted
  • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request
Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in City

Doug Ford's daughter shares anti-vax message and Ontario residents aren't having it

Tow truck drivers charged with street racing near Toronto and people have had enough

Debate ensues about whether to keep ActiveTO road closures in Toronto post-lockdown

Couple fined $615 for feeding squirrels in their own suburban Toronto backyard

Hundreds of people in Ontario offer up cottages to famous actor amid Airbnb woes

10 notable businesses that closed in Toronto last month

Toronto neighbourhood could be totally transformed over the next decades

This is what the inside of the expanded Robarts Library at U of T will look like