The highly transmissible Omicron variant is changing the game and we need to accept that most people will contract this virus despite increased restrictions, testing and other factors. Protecting our most vulnerable is the priority and continuing to safeguard hospitals and ICU capacity.
- Details: Radio Talk Show – December 16, 2021
- News Release: Ontario Updating Public Health Measures and Guidance in Response to Omicron – December 30, 2021
On This Page – what you can do:
Reduce the Severity
Vaccination for COVID-19 can reduce the severity of the disease and help limit the impact on the healthcare system. If more people are able to cope and stay home with less severity of the illness, it allows hospitals to care for the very sick.
Social Diet – all social gatherings present risk and it’s time to look at scaling back to what is really essential.
- Reduce your social activities to essential needs.
- Visits with family to support both mental and physical health are important, but find ways to reduce the risks for those most vulnerable.
- Smaller groups are a better option and continue with basic actions to reduce the spread – stay home when sick, hand washing, distancing and wear a face mask indoors.
Public Health Measures continue to reduce the spread and help protect the most vulnerable. Learn more: Follow Public Health Measures
Assess The Risk
You should be doing a risk assessment based on your own personal health, your risk of having an adverse event or outcome associated with Omicron and the vaccination level of the community around you.
- Each individual will have a different perception of risk. Start an open conversation to talk about those needs and understand the risks of others.
- Approach risk from your comfort level and the impact it may have on others.
- Protecting the most vulnerable is very important.
Follow Public Health Measures
- Get Vaccinated
- Stay Home When Sick
- Wear a Mask Indoors
- Stay Outdoors or in Well Ventilated Spaces
- Practice Physical Distancing
- Avoid Large Gatherings
Find out about the latest public health measures, advice and restrictions – COVID-19 public health measures
Effective December 31, 2021, symptomatic testing will only be available for high-risk individuals, and individuals who work in high-risk settings. Highest risk settings/individuals include hospitals, Long-Term Care, retirement homes, congregate living settings and health care workers providing care to immunocompromised people.
- COVID-19 cases associated with highest risk settings will be prioritized.
- Guidance: COVID-19 Integrated Testing & Case, Contact and Outbreak Management Interim Guidance: Omicron Surge – Updated January 14, 2022
Individuals with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 who are not high-risk and/or do not work in a high risk setting are to presume they are positive and should follow isolation guidelines. Individuals who have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 should follow guidance for isolation or self-monitoring. The following flow charts will help an individual identify if they need to self-isolate or self-monitor and steps they need to take to manage a likely COVID-19 infection.
What to do if:
- You have symptoms and are concerned you may have COVID-19 – PDF Flowchart
- You’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 – PDF Flowchart
- You are a high risk contact (work in a highest risk setting) and you’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 – PDF Flowchart
If you think you may have COVID-19 or were exposed to the virus, follow these steps to take care of yourself and protect others.
- Step One: Confirm if you need to isolate
- Step Two: Get tested for COVID-19 if you are eligible
- Step Three: Inform your close contacts of their exposure
Visit the website: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/exposed for details and resources.
COVID-19: Interim Guidance for Schools and Child Care: Omicron Surge – Released January 12, 2022
- Complete the COVID-19 School or Child Care Screening if you are unsure if your child should attend.
Creating a Plan
You can help manage anxiety about COVID-19 by creating a plan in case you, or someone in your household, becomes ill. Be prepared so you know what resources are available in your community and what could be organized in your home ahead of time.
If you have symptoms of respiratory illness (fever, cough, shortness of breath) and are concerned about your health, call your doctor. Create a list with your doctor’s name and a phone number so it is available and easy to access.
Make sure you have a list of your regular medications available to share with your doctor. If you have a medical emergency, like trouble breathing, call 911 for immediate help.
Child and Elder Care
If you become sick, even with minor symptoms, you will need to isolate yourself to prevent spreading the virus to those you care for. Create a back-up plan for child and elder care.
Create a list with your options to help as child-care back up and elder-care back up along with phone numbers.
You may need someone to take care of your pets, especially if you become seriously ill and receive care at a hospital. Create a list with your pet sitter options and also contact information for your veterinarian.
Frequently Asked Questions
A face shield is not a substitute for wearing a mask. Face shields cannot filter the wearer’s respiratory droplets and their large openings allow respiratory droplets to escape.
Face shields may be used in addition to a mask or face covering. Face shields may provide eye protection to protect the wearer from an unmasked person’s droplets when that individual is unable to maintain 6ft physical distance.
The Public Health Agency of Canada stated that masks should not be made of plastic or other non-breathable materials. Therefore plastic masks or mouth shields are not recommended. Review our FAQ on what to look for when choosing a face covering and learn how to wear them properly.
In Step Three of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen, patrons are required to wear a mask or face covering that covers their mouth, nose and chin, when they are:
• In indoor areas of the restaurant, with limited exemptions (refer to FAQ on mask exemptions).
• In indoor and outdoor areas with a dance area/ while dancing. Please note that any establishment/venue in which persons are dancing, you must wear a mask or face covering if you cannot maintain 2 meters physical distance from every other person outside of your household.
In the outdoor areas of a restaurant (except when dancing) a mask or face covering is not required for patrons, though LPH encourages that whenever individuals are out in the community that they:
• Keep a distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others.
• Wear a face covering when you cannot maintain a physical distance of at least 2 metres.
Please be aware, a mask or face covering becomes required during any period in which a person is in an indoor area of the restaurant, except once seated at their table in which it may be temporarily removed to consume food or drink. As persons move within areas of the establishment (e.g. from their table to the washroom) and between indoor and outdoor areas, if you remove or reapply personal protective equipment you need to ensure proper handling.This includes washing your hands immediately before putting on and immediately after taking off a face covering.
According to Ontario Regulation 364/20, it is not necessary for a person to present evidence to the person responsible for a business or place that they are entitled to any of the exceptions set out in the regulation.
No one should experience harassment or other discriminatory treatment based on the Human Rights Code because they are unable to wear a mask. Everyone involved should be flexible and explore whether individual accommodation is possible, including alternative ways a person might safely continue to work, receive a service or live in congregate housing.
More information on COVID-19 and the Human Rights Code can be found here.
The Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) and its Regulation describes the rules for businesses, organizations, and individuals to follow.
Enforcement begins with education to ensure clear information is shared in order to achieve compliance with the legislation. In Lambton County, the Reopening Ontario Act is enforced by the police and bylaw officers. They use their discretion to issue written warnings and provincial offense notices (tickets).
Visit our Enforcement page for reporting details.
In addition to the ROA, a business or organization may also create their own policies which would be enforced by the owner or manager of that location.