A shift by the provincial government to COVID-19 data thresholds more in line with public health and scientific advice means Niagara is moving into a more restrictive pandemic status come Monday morning.
Starting 12:01 a.m. Monday, the region will shift from its current status of yellow, or “protect”, to the orange “restrict,” level which imposes new limitations on restaurants, bars, sports and recreation facilities and meeting places. The region will stay in this zone for at least 28 days.
The new status is more restrictive than a recent Niagara public health order for bars and restaurants, which comes into effect Saturday morning, but does not supersede the local directives entirely.
Orange alert reduces the maximum occupancy at restaurants and bars, limits the number of people who can sit at a table, slashes operating hours and how long alcohol can be served.
It sets occupancy limits on gyms, and patrons can only stay for 90 minutes.
In both the cases of eateries and gyms, patrons have to be screened for COVID-19 when they arrive.
The new measures were announced by Ontario Premier Doug Ford Friday afternoon, the day after the Toronto Star revealed the provincial government had rejected Public Health Ontario advice on the four COVID-19 control measure statuses.
“We must always be prepared to change course as the situation evolves,” said Ford during a Friday press briefing. “We are staring down the barrel of another lockdown.”