Southwestern Public Health moves into Red-Control Zone

red – CONTROL graphic from Southwestern Public Health

I write you today to inform you that the Province of Ontario is moving several health unit regions back to the colour-coded COVID-19 Response Framework.

On Tuesday, February 16 at 12:01 a.m., the Southwestern Public Health region will move into the “Red-Control” zone based on local data indicators and transmission risks.

The decision to move into Red was made to ease our communities back into the colour-coded Framework to help avoid another lockdown. We are also mindful that Ontario has identified three Variants of Concern in the province, which have been shown to spread more quickly than the initial COVID-19 virus.

Our current priority is to prevent a surge in cases that would again overwhelm our local health care system.

The province has updated the Framework to include general public health measures that are strongly advised regardless of what colour tier a region is in. Notable advice includes:

  • • While there is no longer a Stay-At-Home order in place, staying home is still the best way to protect yourself and your community from COVID-19.
  • • Workplaces must screen workers or essential visitors entering the work environment. See the COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces for more information.
  • • Personal Protective Equipment that protects the eyes, nose and mouth is required if a worker will come within 6 feet of a person who is not wearing a face covering and is not separated by an impermeable barrier.
  • • All businesses or facilities must limit capacity so that every member of the public is able to maintain two metres of physical distance from every other person.
  • • Businesses or places that are open shall ensure that equipment, washrooms, locker rooms, change rooms and showers that are accessible to the public are cleaned and disinfected as frequently as necessary to maintain a sanitary condition.
  • • Face coverings are required to be worn by members of the public and workers in indoor public places and workplaces, with limited exceptions.
  • • All workplaces must have a COVID-19 workplace safety plan and present it if an inspector or compliance officer request to see it.

Here is the full list of this general advice for all zones/colours:

In the Red-Control zone, additional public health measures to control transmission for the general public include:

  • • Trips outside of the home should only be for essential reasons, such as school, work, grocery, pharmacy, health care, assisting vulnerable people, or physical activity
  • • Avoid all social gatherings
    – Limit of 5 people indoors and 25 people outdoors for all organized events and social gatherings
    – Limit of 30% room capacity for indoor and 100 people outdoor for religious services or ceremonies, including weddings and funerals
  • • Work remotely, where possible
  • • Families should not visit other households or allow visitors into their homes; people who live alone can gather with one other household

Additional restrictions apply for select businesses. A full list of Red-Control restrictions is on the website.

As an owner or operator of a business in our region, it is your responsibility to review and follow under the regional Letter of Instruction for Face Coverings issued by the Medical Officer of Health for the Southwestern Public Health region and the guidance set by the Province of Ontario during COVID-19, as regulated under the Reopening Ontario Act (A Flexible Response to COVID-19). Read the regulations for Red-Control for full details: O. Reg. 263/20.

Let’s work together to get through this pandemic quickly so that we can start the recovery process that our community needs.

Thank you for your flexibility to adapt to these changes. Please continue to do your part to protect the community you love.


Dr. Joyce Lock
Medical Officer of Health
Southwestern Public Health

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