More local businesses and services will be able to reopen next week with COVID-19 safety measures in place, as the provincial Stay-at-Home Order comes to an end.  

Effective at 12:01 am on Tuesday, Feb. 16, the provincial government will move the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPRDHU) region into the Orange COVID-19 colour category.

Before the lockdown, it had been in the Yellow level.

HKPRDHU’s Acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Ian Gemmill, strongly urged caution in a Feb. 12 news release.

“While our legal obligation to limit travel and gatherings will end when the Stay-at-Home Order is lifted, we still have a moral obligation to continue doing all we can to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Gemmill said. “I am pleading with people not to gather with others and to continue to stay home and only go out for essential reasons.”

While COVID-19 cases may be declining, the virus is still circulating in the area, he added. New coronavirus variants that are more easily spread are also present locally, and these could also contribute to a sudden surge in COVID-19 infections, he said.

The HKPRDHU region’s move out of the provincial shutdown to the Orange COVID-19 level means:

  • Local restaurants/bars can reopen for in-person dining, while continuing to offer takeout, pick-up and delivery.
  • Worship services, weddings and funerals can resume with limitations.
  • Gyms and fitness clubs can again open their doors to members with limitations.
  • In-person shopping can resume at retail stores.
  • Personal care services such as barbers and hairdressers can resume with restrictions.
  • Movie theatres and performing arts centres can reopen for performances, with limits in place.

All businesses and services that are reopening must follow COVID-19 restrictions. These include operating with reduced hours (in some cases), limiting the number of people inside at one time, ensuring physical distancing and enhancing cleaning and disinfecting measures. Businesses must also screen customers for COVID-19, while ensuring they wear masks (unless exempt).

The move to Orange also means small social gatherings are once again allowed at private homes, backyards and parks between people from different households. Up to 10 people can gather indoors and up to 25 people outdoors. Masks must be worn, and people need to stay 2 metres apart from anyone who is outside of their household.

More information and resources on the Orange COVID-19 Category rules are available at the HKPRDHU website (hkpr.on.ca).

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