COVID-19: Ontario to allow outdoor dining in grey zones; Province expands vaccine eligibility to people aged 75+

A roundup of coronavirus news in Ontario for March 19

Top COVID-19 stories and news

Here’s the list of people eligible for vaccines in Phase 2

The updated list of Ontario grey zone lockdown restrictions

Canada’s COVID-19 travel restrictions: What you need to know 

Tenants face “wave of evictions” as stay-at-home order lifts in Toronto

Will AstraZeneca reversal spread vaccine hesitancy?

Ontario to allow outdoor dining in lockdown zones

5:41 pm It’s official: Toronto and Peel Region are remaining in the grey zone of the COVID-19 framework due to “increasing case rates and per cent test positivity rates in the last week,” the province said on Friday.

Outdoor dining will also be allowed with conditions. However, public health officials have not said when other types of outdoor activities might resume.

The news is expected, since top doctors in both regions said they would request to remain in the grey zone when their statuses in the COVID-19 framework came up for renewal on March 22.

The province is “cautiously adjusting dining capacity limits at restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, for regions in the Grey-Lockdown, Red-Control and Orange-Restrict levels of the Framework, effective Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 12:01 am,” the government said.

Public health officials and mayors in both regions have requested the rules be modified to allow for outdoor dining and other outdoor activities.

“The government will continue to work with the local medical officers of health to determine what targeted adjustments to public health measures may be made to allow for some outdoor activities where the risk of transmission is minimized,” the province said in a statement.

For regions in orange an red, capacity limits for indoor dining will be based on a scalable calculation and allow for up to approximately 50 per cent of the indoor dining area to be accessible to the public. The total occupancy cannot exceed 50 patrons in red and 100 patrons in orange.

Indoor dining will be prohibited in grey zones, but outdoor dining would be permitted subject to physical distancing rules and “a number of other public health and workplace safety measures.”

These measures include:

  • Limiting tables for indoor dining to members of the same household with exemptions for patrons who live alone and caregivers; 
  • Limiting tables for outdoor dining in Grey-Lockdown to members of the same household with exemptions for patrons who live alone and caregivers; and 
  • A sign posted by the establishment in a location visible to the public that states the maximum capacity (number of patrons) they are permitted to operate under.

“While some regions are proceeding to levels with less restrictive measures and adjustments are being made to dining capacity, everyone must continue to adhere to all public health and workplace safety measures,” Chief Medical Officer of Health David Williams said. “We have entered the third wave of the pandemic and the rates of variants of concern continue to rise so it is important that people remain cautious and vigilant in order to minimize the transmission of COVID-19 and protect themselves and their communities.”  

Earlier today, Premier Doug Ford said he was in favour of modifying the framework to allow outdoor activities if Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health was in agreement with the top doctors and mayors in both regions that it would be safe to do so.

Meanwhile, eight other regions are moving up in the colour-coded framework due to “significant and increasing risk of COVID-19 variants,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said.

Effective at 12:01 am on March 22, the following regions will move:


  • Brant County Health Unit;
  • Chatham-Kent Public Health; and
  • Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit.


  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.


  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health;
  • North Bay Parry Sound District;
  • Porcupine Health Unit; and
  • Timiskaming Health Unit.

Ottawa moved up to the red level of the framework today.

Correction: An earlier version of this post said outdoor dining would not be allowed in Toronto or Peel. It will be allowed March 20. This post has been updated. NOW regrets the error.

Ontario reports over 1,700 new COVID-19 cases

11:15 am Ontario reported 1,745 new cases of COVID-19 on March 19, the highest daily count the province has seen since the first day of February.

The province detected 1,553 new cases on Thursday, 1,508 on Wednesday and 1,074 on Tuesday. The rolling seven-day average continues to steadily increase, reaching 1,480 today.

Ontario completed 56,134 tests in the past 24 hours, marking a 3.1 per cent positivity rate.

The province has, so far, administered 1,420,599 doses of the vaccine, including 61,146 in the past day. The provincial government has the capacity to administer closer to 150,000 vaccines a day, but Premier Doug Ford said this morning that Ontario needs a steadier vaccine supply to hit that target.

Active cases continue to rise, reaching 13,253 on Friday. Hospitalizations have jumped from 730 to 759, including 309 patients in intensive care.

Of the 10 deaths reported today, four were between the ages of 40 to 59.

An additional 39 cases of the B117 variant have been reported in the past day and one additional B1351 case.

There have been 325,254 cases of COVID-19 so far in Ontario and 7,212 deaths.

People aged 75+ can book vaccine appointments on Monday

9:45 am Ontario is expanding eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines.

Starting on March 22, the province will start taking appointments through its centralized booking portal for people aged 75 and older, Premier Doug Ford said during a press briefing in Etobicoke on Friday morning.

People 75+ should start booking appointments on Monday and not before, Ford added.

He also said pharmacies and primary care settings will also start booking all people aged 60 and older for shots of the AstraZeneca – not just people 60 to 64.

“We have noticed that the number of people over 80 have declined in booking the appointments and that’s why we are obviously ready to start booking appointments for those age 75 and older,” Rick Hillier, the head of the provincial vaccine task force, said.

The province will also expand the number of pharmacies offering vaccines from 350 to 700 across the province in the next two weeks. Currently, the pharmacies pilot project is only in Kingston, Windsor-Essex and Toronto.

Ontario initially offered shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people 60 to 64 at pharmacies based on advice from Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

Earlier this week, federal officials changed their advice and said the shot is in fact safe for people aged 65 and up.

The province is also expecting an increase in AstraZeneca supply. The Moderna vaccine will also be offered in pharmacies.

Ontario has booked more than 239,000 appointments for first and second vaccine doses since the online booking system launched on March 15, the province said.

To date, over 1.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Ontario and more than 294,000 residents are fully immunized.

New COVID-19 cases in Ontario on March 19

The following regions reported five or more new COVID-19 cases:

Toronto = 478

Peel = 344

York Region = 174

City of Hamilton = 116

Durham Region = 96

Ottawa = 73

Halton Region = 53

Thunder Bay District = 52

Region of Waterloo = 35

Simcoe Muskoka District = 34

Sudbury & Districts = 30

Lambton = 29

Windsor-Essex County = 27

Middlesex-London = 26

Niagara Region = 25

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph = 25

Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington = 22

Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District = 16

Northwestern = 15

Chatham-Kent = 14

Southwestern = 12

Eastern Ontario = 11

Haldimand-Norfolk = 9

Brant County = 7

Peterborough = 6

Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District = 5

Grey Bruce = 5


Brand Voices

One response to “COVID-19: Ontario to allow outdoor dining in grey zones; Province expands vaccine eligibility to people aged 75+”

  1. Doctors are requesting a further Lockdown but Fords bunch are proceeding as if the 3rd wave is not a problem. Criminal activity which should require charges from the families of anyone who dies hearin.

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