COVID-19 Vaccines

Vaccines are safe and proven effective to protect against diseases – and now they are available in the fight against COVID-19. Please read further for more information about COVID-19 vaccine approval and availability.

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COVID-19 Vaccine Approval

Health Canada has approved COVID-19 vaccines for use in Canada. These include the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and a vaccine developed by Moderna. Health Canada has determined COVID-19 vaccine – like any others – meets its strict safety and quality requirements for regulating and approving vaccines.

Creating a new vaccine can take years. However, the progress on COVID-19 is happening quickly for many reasons, including: advances in science and technology; international collaboration among scientists, health professionals, researchers, industry and governments; and increased funding to find a vaccine.

Vaccine Availability

The local Health Unit is working closely with the Province, local hospitals, health care partners, and long-term care and retirement homes to prepare for a safe and orderly rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in this region. It’s expected the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine will arrive locally in early February.

Due to limited supplies of COVID-19 vaccines currently available in Ontario, the Province has outlined a three-phase approach to provide vaccines to people.

In Phase One, priority is being given to offer vaccines to high-risk groups first, including residents/staff of long-term care homes and other health care workers. Priority is also being given to provide COVID-19 vaccines first to parts of Ontario with the highest COVID-19 infection rates.

As the supply of COVID-19 vaccine increases, the Ontario government will move to Phase Two of vaccine distribution — likely in the spring and summer — making it more widely available, including in Northumberland County, Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes. During Phase Two, the following groups will be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Older adults, beginning with those 80 years of age and older and decreasing in five-year increments over the course of the vaccine rollout.
  • Individuals living and working in high-risk congregate setting.
  • Frontline essential workers (e.g., first responders, education workers, food processing industry);.
  • Individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers.
  • Other populations and communities facing barriers related to the determinants of health across Ontario who are at greater COVID-19 risk.

In Phase Three, starting in late summer, COVID-19 vaccines will be widely available for anyone who wants to receive one.

While the COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandatory in Ontario, you are strongly encouraged to get one when it is available. COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and will be free to everyone. When a large percentage of people become vaccinated or immune to COVID-19, the spread of the virus will slow down or stop.

What To Do Right Now

Until COVID-19 vaccines are widely available, you must continue to:

  • Stay home if sick.
  • Only leave home for essentials like groceries and medical matters.
  • Avoid all non-essential travel.
  • Wear a mask or face covering that covers your nose, mouth and chin when inside public places.
  • Practise physical distancing by staying 2 metres (6 feet) apart from anyone outside your immediate household
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Practise other COVID-19 prevention measures.
Additional Resources

Learn more on COVID-19 vaccine distribution, development and safety:

Provincial COVID-19 State of Emergency

Current Situation

On Jan. 12, 2021, the provincial government announced a second State of Emergency is in effect in Ontario due to rising cases of COVID-19. The Ontario government’s order means people must stay at home except for getting essentials.

These measures are in effect for the time-being. The Province will monitor key public health indicators around COVID-19 to determine whether or not to extend the emergency. Read on for further details.

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Key Highlights

In response to rising COVID-19 cases locally and across Ontario, the Province is declaring a State of Emergency. Strict measures are in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and lessen the impact on hospitals, long-term care homes and other health care services. Failure to follow these restrictions could lead to tickets or fines.

Stay-at-Home Order

This order takes effect on Jan. 14, 2021. It requires everyone to stay at home, with the goal of reducing people’s mobility and contact with others outside their household in order to cut rising COVID-19 rates in Ontario. Do not gather with anyone outside your immediate household and only leave your home for:

  • Groceries, medicine and other essentials
  • Accessing health care services
  • Assisting others
  • Exercise (including walking the dog)
  • Essential work. NOTE: Businesses and organizations must ensure that any employee who can work from home does work from home.
  • School and child care.
  • Getting items and services needed for the health and safety of animals.
  • Gathering for a wedding, funeral, or religious service.
  • Other exemptions as outlined in the Stay-at-Home regulation (O.Reg.11/21).

NOTE: Anyone who lives alone will still be able to spend time (have close contact) with one other household to reduce the impacts of isolation.

Anyone not complying with the stay-at-home order could face fine or prosecution.

If you must leave your home to go out for essentials, ensure you follow all public health measures such as: staying 2 metres apart from others and wearing masks/face coverings (ensuring they cover your nose, mouth and chin; scarves and bandanas are insufficient).

For more on the Stay-at-Home order, read these FAQs.

Other Public Health Restrictions
  • Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are further restricted to a limit of five people with limited exceptions. The old limit had been a maximum of 10 people.
  • Individuals MUST wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open for shopping (with limited exceptions for age and medical reasons).
  • NEW: Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can’t physically distance more than two metres. 
Business Openings/Closures
  • Most non-essential retail stores can continue to be open for curbside pickup or delivery. However, these non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, can only be open from 7 am to 8 pm.
  • Restricted hours of operation do not apply to grocery stores (including other retailers that primarily sell food), pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery. These essential businesses can remain open for in-person shopping, but must continue to follow all public health control measures, including capacity limits (maximum of 50%) and ensuring customers wear masks/face coverings and practise physical distancing.
  • Discount retailers and big-box stores that sell groceries can open for in-person shopping, as well as curbside pickup and delivery. However, they MUST ensure customers stay at least two metres apart and limit themselves to a maximum 25% capacity.
  • Restaurants/bars can remain open for takeout, drive-through and delivery. No indoor dining is allowed.
  • Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.
  • All gyms, fitness clubs and recreational facilities remain closed.
  • Outdoor recreational amenities such as ice rinks, parks, playgrounds, tobogganing hills, trails (including for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing) and basketball courts can stay open, provided users follow all public health guidelines (e.g. physical distancing, capacity limits).
  • Ski hills remain closed.
  • All concert venues, theatres and cinemas are closed, including for drive-in or drive-through events.
  • Public libraries can open for contactless curbside, delivery and pickup.
  • Museums and cultural amenities remain closed.
  • Businesses must have COVID-19 safety plans in place and make them available upon request. This sample COVID-19 Safety Plan for Community Partners, Businesses and Service Providers may be of use.
  • All businesses or places that are open must do frequent cleaning and disinfecting to ensure areas open to the public are kept in sanitary conditions.
  • Workplaces must do COVID-19 screening for any workers or essential visitors entering the work premises. The screening tool should ask if staff or visitors have any COVID-19 symptoms. This screening tool could be done electronically or using a paper-based resource like the sample provided here. The Ministry of Health also has an online COVID-19 Screening Tool for Employees and an online COVID-19 Screening Tool for Customers that may be of use.
Religious Services, Weddings and Funerals
  • No more than 10 people are allowed inside (or outside) for weddings, funerals and other religious services
  • For both indoor and outdoor ceremonies, those attending MUST ensure physical distancing, wear masks or face coverings that cover their nose, mouth and chin, and follow proper health and safety rules.
  • Virtual services are permitted, and encouraged especially due to Stay-at-Home order.
  • Drive-in services, rites or ceremonies are permitted, subject to certain conditions.
Schools and Child Care Centres
  • Teacher-led remote learning continues for students in southern Ontario. Schools in northern Ontario will remain open.
  • All schools in the COVID-19 hot spots of Toronto, Windsor-Essex, Hamilton, York Region and Peel Region will not return to in-person instruction until at least Feb. 10, 2021.
  • By Jan. 20, the Chief Public Health Officer of Health will advise when in-person learning for students in southern Ontario (including Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes) can resume in schools.
  • New COVID-19 health and safety measures will take effect when in-person learning resumes in schools. These measures include:
    • Masks and face coverings must now be worn by Grades 1-3 students. Requirements are also in place for mask use outdoors.
    • Enhanced screening protocols
    • Expanded targeted testing
  • Child care centres for non-school aged children will remain open.
Increased Enforcement
  • Increased education and enforcement checks/inspections for workplaces will be carried out by Ministry of Labour inspectors to ensure compliance with all COVID-19 safety rules
  • The Province is giving increased enforcement powers to the Ontario Provincial Police, local police forces, municipal bylaw officers, and provincial workplace inspectors to issue tickets to individuals who do not obey the stay-at-home-order or do not wear a mask or face covering indoors. Businesses and companies could also be penalized for failing to follow the rules/orders.
  • Anyone who does not obey the new emergency orders could face a ticket, fine or prosecution under the Reopening Ontario Act or the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to key questions about Ontario’s State of Emergency and Stay-at-Home order:

Why is the Province issuing a stay-at-home order while also permitting curbside pickup at stores?

This question assumes every person in Ontario has easy access to online shopping or that there is a big-box retailer in their community. This isn’t the case for many Ontarians who live in rural and remote areas.

Over the past year, we’ve learned a lot responding to this pandemic, including the fact that what may be essential to someone in a small community and how they buy that item may not be essential to someone in downtown Toronto, who can easily buy items online for delivery. The Government of Ontario determining what retailers may be considered essential risks cutting off many Ontarians who don’t live in Toronto or an urban centre from access to necessary goods.

What is an essential item?

The Government of Ontario cannot determine what is essential for every person in this province, each with their own unique circumstances and regional considerations. Legally defining what is essential risks cutting people off from goods that may legitimately be necessary for their health, well-being and safety.

What is an essential trip?

The Government of Ontario cannot determine what is essential for every person in this province, each with their own unique circumstances and regional considerations. That said, we have provided broad categories that people should consider before leaving home: food; health-care services, including medication; exercise; or work (where someone’s job cannot be done at home).

What is essential work?

The Stay-at-Home order does not define what work or jobs are essential. Rather, it now mandates that anyone who can work from home must now do so. For example, someone working in retail obviously can’t do their job from home and would be permitted to go to work.

If you do leave home for essential work, get a letter from your employer. This can be used as proof of employment in case you are asked.

Why hasn’t the Province defined who can or should work from home?

The Government of Ontario cannot review tens of millions of job descriptions to determine who can work from home. As such, it is relying on the best judgment and common sense of employers to determine who can do so.

At this time, if your workplace is permitted to be open and you are unable to work from home, you can leave home for work so long as your presence is required in the workplace. The Ontario government mandates that if you are able to work from home, you must.

If you believe you should be working from home, contact the Ministry of Labour to file a health and safety complaint.

Why can people still gather in groups of five outdoors?

The outdoor gathering limit of five is in recognition of the fact that some people live alone and may require the company or support of others for their mental and physical well-being. Anyone gathering outside is expected to adhere to physical distancing measures and are now strongly urged to wear a mask.

Can people leave home to exercise? Can I go to my local playground, ice rink, trail or basketball court?

Yes, exercise is considered an essential reason for leaving your home. What that means will be unique to each individual person: some may wish to go for a walk around the block, while others may wish to go to a local basketball court with their household to shoot some hopes.

Under current regulations, outdoor recreational amenities are allowed to open. This includes parks, playgrounds, basketball courts, skate parks, Frisbee golf locations, ice rinks, tobogganing hills, trails for snowmobiles/cross country skiing/snowshoeing dogsledding and others. Anyone using these outdoor amenities must maintain 2 metres physical distance from others. No team sports can be practised or played in these venues.

Please check further with your local municipality to understand what recreational amenities are open in their community. Watch for posted signs that may give further direction on use.

Can I go ice-fishing?

Yes, ice fishing is allowed. Rentals of ice huts is also permitted. Huts should be large enough to allow for physical distancing. Anyone renting huts should be screened for COVID-19 beforehand and provide contact information (in case contact tracing is needed). Ice huts can only be used by members of a single household, and cannot be used overnight.

Any rental equipment such as fishing rods should be cleaned and disinfected between uses. The maximum outdoor gathering limit is five people.

Can someone living alone still join up with another household?

Yes, they can exclusively join one other household. This is to support their mental health and well-being, as well as to ensure those requiring support continue to have access to essential caregivers.

Can I drop off my child to a grandparent for care?

Yes. Under the regulation, people can leave home to attend, obtain or provide child care. This can include dropping off a child at a grandparent or similar relative.

Can I leave home to care for an older family member, such as a parent or grandparent?

Yes. In this circumstance, you would be allowed to provide care or support.

Is there a time limit for how long people can leave their homes?

No. That said, we’re asking Ontarians to use their best judgment when leaving their home for essential reasons. They should limit the number of stores they go to and spend as little time outside their home as possible.

Is there a limit on the number of times someone can leave their home in a day?

No. That said, we’re asking Ontarians to use their best judgment when leaving their home for essential reasons. They should limit the number of stores they go to and spend as little time outside their home as possible.

Can people travel to their cottages or secondary residences?

Right now, we are asking people to stay home and only leave their home for essential purposes, which could include emergency maintenance at a secondary residence. In the spirit of the Stay-at-Home order, we are not recommending inter-provincial travel.

Can places of worship be open during the State of Emergency?

Yes. Religious services, weddings and funerals are still allowed — with restrictions. Click here for more details.

What should I do if I have been in contact with someone who is positive for COVID-19?

Public health reaches out to anyone who is considered a high-risk contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19. Public health staff will give you direction on what to do next.

If you are reporting a potential exposure, stay at home to isolate and monitor for symptoms. The Health Unit recommends you go for testing at least 5-7 days after your last exposure, or sooner if COVID-19 symptoms develop. For further guidance, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577m ext. 5020.

Additional Resources

If you have further questions, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 ext. 5020, or email:

Mental Health and COVID-19

COVID-19 can feel overwhelming. While it’s important to reduce the risk of the virus, you also need to look after your mental health at this time. Here’s what to do: 

  • Maintain routines as you’re able, keeping in mind the importance to take precautions such as physical distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • While you’re encouraged to only have close contact with others in your immediate household, stay connected with family and friends through phone, social media or video-conferencing.
  • Seek professional help. If you’re overwhelmed, talk by phone to a health professional or counsellor. If you have coverage for a counsellor through work, access your Employee and Family Assistance Plan.  
  • Eat well 
  • Stay active: Doing fun and healthy activities outdoors makes it easier to keep physical distance.  
  • Get enough sleep 
  • Look back at challenging situations and see how you successfully coped with them 
  • Limit your daily dose of COVID-19-related news to reduce anxiety and worry. Fight fear with facts about the pandemic by turning to credible sources of information. 

Supporting Others 

  • COVID-19 affects everyone, so be kind to others – regardless of gender, ethnicity, income or age. 
  • Reduce stigma. Use supportive language like: “people who have COVID-19”, “people who are being treated for COVID19”, or “people who are recovering from COVID-19”. Don’t define others  just because they’re affected by the coronavirus.   
  • Be neighbourly and assist others where possible, being sure to protect your health as well. 
  • Share positive and inspiring stories of what your community is doing to pull together during this time.  
  • Be patient and recognize the role caretakers and health care workers are playing in supporting people affected with COVID-19.  
If You Are Self-Isolating 
  • Stay connected with friends and family by phone, social media or video calls. 
  • Ask for help from friends, family and neighbours to deliver necessities to your door. Many community groups (e.g. churches and service clubs) have volunteers to help those who are isolated. 
  • Even if isolating or in quarantine, keep up your personal daily routines at home or create new ones.  
  • Stay healthy. Be active, eat well and get enough sleep.  
If You Have Mental Health and Addiction Issues

It’s extra important to control your anxiety and maintain your mental wellness during COVID-19:

  • Consider and accept that some fear and anxiety is normal
  • Seek credible information provided by experts and reputable sources
  • Assess your personal risk
  • Seek support
  • Get proper rest and sleep
  • Stay active
  • Access this Mental Health and COVID-19 Pandemic resource from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
Additional Resources:  

Four County Crisis – If you’re in crisis please call 705-745-6484 or toll-free 1-866-995-9933. By phoning these numbers, you can access 24-hour, free, confidential crisis support.

211 Community Support – Easily find/search government and community-based services during COVID-19.  Call or text 2-1-1 day or night to find support for all of life’s challenges. Live Chat also available Monday to Friday from 7 am to 9 pm.

Centre for Addition and Mental Health  

Bounce Back – A guided self-help program for adults and youth aged 15 and over using workbooks with online videos and phone coaching support.

Kids’ Help Phone – 24/7 virtual support service offering professional counselling, information and referrals as well as volunteer-led, text-based support to young people. Services available in both English and French by calling 1-800-668-6868.

Good2Talk – Free, confidential mental health support service providing professional counselling and information and referrals for mental health, addictions and well-being to postsecondary students in Ontario

Wellness Together Canada – Mental health and substance use support.

World Health Organization 

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Isolating During COVID-19

In certain cases, you MUST isolate or quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This protects you and others from illness, especially those more at risk from COVID-19 such as seniors and people with chronic medical conditions.

Please Note: On December 12, 2020, the Acting local Medical Officer of Health issued the following updated Class Order under Section 22 (5.01.1) under the Health Protection and Promotion Act. This order replaces an original order pertaining to self-isolating due to COVID-19. The updated Class Order is designed to protect the health of local residents by reducing the spread of COVID-19 in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes.

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When to Isolate

Public health staff will give you further direction on when and how long to isolate or quarantine, depending on your circumstances. In general, you must isolate:

  1. If you are diagnosed with COVID-19.
  2. If you have the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, have been tested and are awaiting the results.
  3. If you believe you have COVID-19 symptoms (even mild ones).
  4. You must quarantine if you are identified as a close contact of someone who has COVID-19, is awaiting test results or is believed to have symptoms.
  5. Parents and caregivers of anyone under age 16 who tests positive for COVID-19, is awaiting test results or is believed to have symptoms may also need to isolate.

NOTE: The federal government also has mandatory quarantine and isolation orders in effect for travelers to and from Canada. Please click here for full details.

How Long to Isolate

You must remain in isolation or quarantine as directed by public health staff.

In general, you must isolate for:

  • 10 days if diagnosed with mild to moderate COVID-19 illness and symptoms
  • 20 days if you suffered more severe COVID-19 illness (e.g. requiring Intensive Care Unit level support) or are immune-compromised.

You must quarantine for:

  • 14 days if you had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 or strongly suspected of having the virus.

Please follow specific public health guidance for isolating and quarantining, or call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020 for further direction.

How to Isolate
Stay home

Do not use public transportation, taxis or rideshares.

Do not go to work, school or other public places.

Stay home unless you need to get tested or require emergency medical care.

Avoid contact with others

No visitors unless essential (e.g. care providers)

Stay away from seniors and people with chronic medical conditions (e.g. diabetes, lung problems, immune deficiency).

As much as possible, stay in a separate room away from other people in your home and use a separate bathroom if you have one.

Make sure that shared rooms have good airflow (e.g. open windows).

If these steps are not possible, keep a distance of at least two metres (6 feet) from others at all times.

Keep your distance

If you are in a room with other people, keep a distance of at least two metres and wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.

Other people should wear a mask when they are in the same room as you.

Wash your hands

Wash your hands often with soap and water.

Dry your hands with a paper towel, or with your own cloth towel that no one else will share.

Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

Cover your coughs and sneezes

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hand.

Throw used tissues in a lined wastebasket, and wash your hands. Lining the wastebasket with a plastic bag makes waste disposal safer.

Clean your hands after emptying the wastebasket.

Wear a mask over your nose and mouth

Wear a mask if you must leave your house to see a health care provider or to get tested for COVID-19.

Wear a mask when you are within two metres of other people, or stay in a separate room.

If you do not have a mask, maintain two metres distance from people and cover your cough and sneezes

What should I do if I develop symptoms?
  • Complete the COVID-19 Self-Assessment.
  • Contact Telehealth (1-866-797-0000) or your health care provider.
  • Anyone with whom you had close physical contact (e.g., in your household) in the two days before your symptoms started or after symptoms started should also isolate. If you have questions about this, call the local Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020.
  • You will be directed by the Health Unit or health care provider on how long you need to isolate or quarantine.
  • When you stop isolating or quarantining, you should continue with measures to prevent COVID-19, including physical distancing and properly wearing a mask or face covering.
  • If you are still unwell at the end of your isolation or quarantine period, contact Telehealth or your health care provider for further direction.

Isolating with NO COVID-19 Symptoms (Older Adults and people with existing medical conditions)

After Your Isolation Period is Over

If you do not develop symptoms after your isolation period is over OR If you no longer have a fever and your symptoms have improved:

  • You can stop isolating, but for your protection, stay home except for essential trips (e.g. groceries and medication)
  • You MUST practise physical distancing measures when in public
  • Continue with frequent handwashing and avoid touching your face

If you are still unwell after this period, contact Telehealth or your health care provider for further direction. You can also call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020.

Additional Resources
Watch our video on YouTube

211 Community Support – Easily find/search government and community-based services during COVID-19. Call or text 2-1-1 day or night to find support for all of life’s challenges. Live Chat also available Monday to Friday from 7 am to 9 pm.

Download and print resources below:

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