More Changes to the COVID Public Health Measures

Friday, October 2, 2020

Public health measures in Ontario keep tightening in response to the second wave of COVID-19. In preparation for the cold winter months, the provincial government is taking action to reduce testing turnaround times while prioritizing those who are at the greatest risk.

New Testing Measures

Starting Tuesday, October 6, 2020 COVID assessment centres will transition to appointment-based testing only. 

As of Sunday, October 4, 2020 assessment centres will discontinue walk-in testing services to allow assessment centres the necessary time to reset, deep clean and ensure preparedness for the new appointment-based model.

New measures include:

  • Continuing mobile testing and pop-up testing centres to reach vulnerable populations and provide targeted testing for long-term care, congregate care, and other vulnerable populations
  • Expanding the number of pharmacies where people with no symptoms within provincial testing guidance can get tested
  • Implementing updated testing guidance for children to help parents determine when it is most appropriate for students, children and their families to seek a test for COVID-19.

The government said it is taking longer-term actions to increase the province's test processing capacity so people can get their results faster by:

  • Increasing testing and processing capacity to 50,000 tests per day by mid-October and 68,000 tests per day by mid-November
  • Introducing new testing methods (like the rapid test) once they are approved by Health Canada, including point of care testing and antigen testing.

New Public Health Measures

Targeted measures will also be implemented in Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto as a result of their higher than average rates of transmission. These include:

  • Setting an indoor capacity limit of patrons who can enter restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments (including nightclubs) to a maximum of 100 patrons for Ottawa and Peel and 75 patrons for Toronto
  • Patrons visiting these establishments must maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other patron, permitting no more than six patrons per table, requiring operators to ensure patrons lining up or congregating outside of their establishment maintain physical distancing, and mandating that the name and contact information for each patron be collected of
  • Restricting group exercise classes at gyms and other fitness settings to 10 people, as well as restricting the total number of people allowed at these facilities to a maximum of 50
  • Setting a limit on the number of people allowed at meeting and event facilities, including banquet halls, to six people per table and 50 people per facility.

The government says it is taking these further actions to help stop the spread of the virus but also to avoid full future lockdowns. 

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