Waterloo Region has entered back into the red tier. Here's what that means
Published Friday, February 12, 2021 12:16PM EST Last Updated Tuesday, February 16, 2021 2:08PM EST
KITCHENER -- Waterloo Region re-entered the province's red "control" tier on Tuesday as the provincial stay-at-home order came to an end.
Ontario first made the announcement in a news release issued on Friday afternoon.
The region's top doctor said during a media briefing on Friday morning that she had expected Waterloo Region to fall into the red "control" tier, which is the highest a region can be before entering the grey "lockdown" tier.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang noted at the time that the region's weekly incidence rate is above the red threshold of 40 cases per 100,000 residents. The region's rate is at about 58 per 100,000.
"Our trends are currently stable. Our rates are no longer continuing to decrease at this time," she said Friday.
Dr. Wang had initially recommended that businesses prepare for each lockdown zone to be safe.
"It's good news to be able to see some of our small businesses reopen," said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic.
Waterloo Region returned to the reopening framework on Tuesday along with most other public health units in the province. Toronto, Peel and York Region are slated to move back to the framework on Feb. 22.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health will also move into the red tier next week. Brant County Health Unit and Huron Perth Public Health will both be placed in the orange "restrict" tier.
CURRENT RED TIER RESTRICTIONS
Under the province's red tier framework, social gatherings will be limited to five people indoors or 25 outdoors.
Religious services or ceremonies will be limited to 30 per cent indoor capacity and to 100 people outdoors.
Restaurants will also have indoor capacity limits as long as physical distancing can be maintained. Limits on when alcohol can be served and consumed also apply. Restaurants can still offer delivery and takeout.
New red tier limits will apply for retail stores, capping supermarkets and stores that sell primarily food at 75 per cent capacity. The same limit applies for pharmacies and convenience stores.
Big box stores, on the other hand, will be capped at 50 per cent capacity. In both cases, stores have to post their capacity limits and have screening measures in place
For personal care services, any service that requires customers to take off their face coverings will be prohibited
Cinemas will remain closed except for a few specific circumstances. Drive-ins are still allowed.
The City of Waterloo and the City of Kitchener are doing phased reopening of recreational services as they recall staff.
"It's arenas, it's gymnasiums, it's the field house, it's the aquatic tank for swimmers and divers," said Steve Scherrer, manager of recreation facilities with the City of Waterloo.
OFFICIALS STILL URGING RESIDENTS TO BE CAREFUL
Despite the decrease in lockdown measures, officials are reminding the public to continue to be careful.
"While the trends in public health indicators are heading in the right direction, we still have work to do," said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams in a news release.
"Everyone is strongly advised to continue staying at home, avoid social gatherings, only travel between regions for essential purposes, and limit close contacts to your household or those you live with."
"(It's) strongly recommended that we continue to stay in our households as much as possible," Vrbanovic also said.
With reporting by CTV News Kitchener's Natalie van Rooy