MIDDLESEX CENTRE, ONT. -- Middlesex-London and Elgin-Oxford will reopen in the red-control zone of the province's COVID-19 response framework on Tuesday.

The province made the widely-anticipated announcement on Friday, ahead of the lifting of the stay-at-home order for the majority of the province on Feb. 16. Toronto, Peel and York Region return to the framework on Feb. 22.

While the stay-at-home order is being lifted, for regions in red the province continues to recommend leaving your home only for essential reasons, not visiting other households and avoiding social gatherings.

Indoor private gatherings are not recommended and are still capped at five people, or 25 people outdoors.

Middlesex-London Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie says he does agree with the placement.

"There are still lots of restrictions, and to be absolutely clear, the recommendation from the Middlesex-London health Unit and across the province is still to avoid all indoor gatherings...I think that red is better than orange for us now."

He added that the region ended up in red despite lower numbers recently because the province used data up until last Friday when the incidence rate was about 39 per 100,000.

In a statement, Dr. Joyce Lock, medical officer of health at Southwestern Public Health, which covers Elgin and Oxford counties, agreed that it's not time to ease up.

“We have just overcome a significant surge in our region, with many cases that required hospitalization, intensive care. There were many deaths. I know we are all tired and we are longing for the days where we can spend quality time with our loved ones – but we are not there just yet."

The new restrictions are expected to remain in place for at least two weeks, Mackie added. The criteria to move to less stringent restrictions can be found here.

Here are some of the restrictions that will take effect in Middlesex-London and Elgin-Oxford on Tuesday:


  • supermarkets , convenience stores and pharmacies open at 75 per cent capacity
  • all other retail at 50 per cent capacity, including big box, liquor, hardware and garden stores
  • capacity limit and signs advising not to enter if you have COVID-19 symptoms must be posted publicly
  • only non–adjacent fittings rooms open
  • maximum of 10 patrons seated in mall food courts

Restaurants and bars

  • 10 people allowed indoors where distancing allows, maximum of four per table with two metres or an impermeable barrier between tables
  • no buffet-style service
  • patrons must be screened and contact information collected
  • face coverings required except when eating and drinking
  • workers must wear PPE, including eye protection when coming with two metres of someone not wearing face covering
  • no liquor served after 9 p.m., establishments must close by 10 p.m.
  • no dancing, singing or live music
  • night clubs and strip clubs can only operate as restaurant or bar

Sports and recreation

  • no contact, maintain two metres distancing at all times or three metres around weights, equipment or in exercise/fitness class
  • where distancing can be maintained, 10 people allowed indoors or 25 outdoors, no spectators except one guardian for those under 18
  • reservations required and patrons can remain for maximum of 90 minutes unless playing a sport
  • training only allowed for team sports, no games or scrimmage
  • exceptions for high-performance athletes and parasport
  • face covering required except when exercising
  • patrons must be screened and contact information collected

Personal service

  • no services requiring removal of face coverings is allowed
  • oxygen bars, steam rooms, saunas, bath houses, most sensory deprivation pods and other adult venues closed
  • patrons must be screened and contact information collected

Other businesses and events

  • organized public gatherings can include a maximum five people indoors, 25 outdoors
  • religious services can operate at 30 per cent capacity indoors, 100 people outdoors
  • casinos, bingo halls and gaming can open with 10 people indoors, 25 outdoors, no table gaming, no liquor served after 9 p.m., no liquor consumption after 10 p.m., patrons must be screened and contact information collected
  • cinemas closed except for drive-ins, rehearsal and performance of recorded/broadcast events allowed with restrictions

Chatham-Kent and Windsor-Essex will also reopen in red, while areas covered by Huron-Perth Public Health (HPPH), Lambton Public Health and the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit will reopen in the orange-restrict zone, while Grey-Bruce falls into the yellow-protect zone.

HPPH Medical Officer of Health Dr. Miriam Klassen released a statement saying, “I’m pleased that residents will have more social and economic opportunities, which are needed for health and wellbeing. However, I caution that the end of the stay-at-home order is not a reopening or a return to normal. The COVID-19 situation is still serious, especially with the risk of new variants.”

Dr. Sudit Ranade, medical officer of health in Lambton added in a statement, “It is very important for our community to view these changes as a gradual transition with many restrictions and recommended actions still required...Be diligent and limit trips in the community to only essential needs, maintain close contacts with only those in your household, and in doing so you will allow services in the community to operate safely.”

More details on the regulations in each zone are available here.