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:

Winter Activities and COVID-19

IMPORTANT NOTE: As of Jan. 12, 2021, the Province has announced a second State of Emergency in Ontario due to rising cases of COVID-19. The Ontario government’s order means people must stay at home except for getting essentials and follow these restrictions and public health measures.

Exercise is one of the reasons people can go out. If you are taking part in outdoor activities, try to find trails or rinks near your home and follow all public health measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

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In General
  • Do not go out if you are feeling sick. Stay home instead and use Ontario’s online COVID-19 Assessment Tool for further direction.
  • Stay close to home by accessing nearby trails, hills and parks . Avoid all non-essential travel.
  • Follow COVID-19 guidelines, especially practising physical distancing.
  • NEW: Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can’t physically distance more than two metres from others outside your household. 
  • If possible, only do outdoor activities with people in your immediate family/household. If you are out with others, ensure you stay 2 metres apart.
  • The new limit on outdoor gatherings is no more than five people.
  • Obey any municipal gathering limits that may be in place at the hill, rink or trail that you use. It’s always important to keep apart from others outside your immediate household.
  • Wear appropriate helmets and safety gear.
  • Dress in layers to stay warm. Layer up based on the current weather conditions.
  • Download the free ParticipACTION app to access resources/suggestions on how to be active in the winter months.
Outdoor Skating
  • Follow all COVID-19 guidelines and directions when using a municipally-run outdoor skating rink. For municipalities, the following COVID-19 Guidance for Outdoor Ice Surface/Rinks and Outdoor Skating Trails is provided for your use.
  • For your own outdoor rink:
    • During the state of emergency, only allow members of your immediate family/household to use it.
    • Wear proper-fitting helmets when skating. Do not share equipment.
  • Tobogganing is allowed, but only in areas and on hills where it is permitted. Avoid doing any risky manoeuvres such as sliding down the hill head-first.
  • Only toboggan with those in your immediate family or household.
  • Ensure you practise physical distancing at the tobogganing hill by staying at least 2 metres (6 feet) apart from others (excluding those in your own household)
  • If the tobogganing hill is too busy to maintain physical distancing, come back at another time when there are less people there.
  • Cross-country skiing is allowed on designated trails. It’s best to only cross-country ski with people in your own immediate family or household. Try to pick trails close to your home.
  • Ensure you stay at least 2 metres (6 feet) apart from others outside your immediate household.
  • Wear proper helmet and safety gear.
  • Do not linger or socialize in parking lots.
  • Under the provincial COVID-19 shutdown, ski hills are closed.
  • Do NOT travel to places outside your region. Only use designated and available snowmobiling trails in your area. Visit the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) website for more trail information and openings.
  • Wear proper helmet and safety gear.
  • Ideally, only snowmobile with members of your immediate family/household.
  • If traveling in groups with people outside your household, practise physical distancing by staying at least 2 metres apart. Do not share food with each other and do not congregate on trails. Remember that the current limit on outdoor gatherings is only five people (failure to follow this could lead to fines).
  • Follow OFSC Ride Smart 2021 protocols to stay safe during COVID-19.
  • Plan ahead. Be aware that food may not be readily available during provincial COVID-19 shutdown. There may also be no places to warm up or use washrooms during your day.
  • Snowshoeing is allowed, but try sticking close to home. Go snowshoeing in your backyard or use parks/trails near your home.
  • Follow all COVID-19 guidelines that may be posted for trail use.
  • Limit snowshoeing with only those in your immediate family or household.
  • Practise physical distancing by staying 2 metres (6 feet) apart from others (except those in your immediate household)
Winter Trail Use
  • Follow guidelines for trail use.
  • Only use trails with people in your immediate family or household.
  • Do not gather in groups on the trail
  • Do not linger or socialize in parking lots
  • Maintain a 2-metre physical distance from other trail users.
Ice Fishing
  • Ice fishing is still allowed.
  • Rentals of ice huts is permitted. Ice huts should be large enough to allow for physical distancing.
  • Anyone renting ice huts needs to be screened for COVID-19 beforehand and provide contact information (in case contact tracing is needed).
  • Ice huts must only be used by members of a single household, and cannot be used overnight.
  • Any rental equipment (fishing rods) must be properly cleaned and disinfected between uses.
  • Maximum outdoor gathering limit is 5 people under the current State of Emergency. 
  • NEW: It’s now recommended that masks or face coverings be worn outdoors if you can’t maintain physical distancing.
Parks and Playgrounds
  • Stick to parks and playgrounds near your home.
  • While parks and playgrounds are allowed to open during the provincial COVID-19 state of emergency, please check with your local municipality to see if you can still access them.
  • Ensure you practise physical distancing by staying 2 metres (6 feet) apart from others (except those in your immediate household).

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:


Access local COVID-19 data, and information to reduce your risk of COVID-19.

Scroll down this page for resources and links on how to stay safe and protect yourself and others from COVID-19. If you need further help or guidance, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020, or email

Self-Isolation During COVID-19 – Class Order Under Section 22 (5.01.1) of the Health Protection and Promotion Act 

Community Updates

Cases of COVID-19 within the HKPR District area

Click here for the latest COVID-19 case counts in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes.

Additional COVID-19 Data Links

Featured Items

COVID-19 Content


With influenza season here, let’s fight flu by getting the flu vaccine.

Influenza (or the flu) is a serious respiratory illness caused by a virus. People of any age can get the flu and it can easily be spread to others through coughing or sneezing. Symptoms of influenza include: fever, cough, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, muscle aches and extreme weakness and fatigue. Most people who get the flu are ill for only a few days. However, some people can become very ill, possibly developing complications and requiring hospitalization.

Protect yourself and your loved ones by getting the free flu vaccine!

Flu vaccine is free in Ontario and strongly recommended every year for anyone six months of age and older. Flu vaccine is safe and effective in protecting you from getting sick with the flu. The flu vaccine strengthens your immune system to build up antibodies against the virus. Even if you do get the flu, the vaccine helps ensure you have milder symptoms of the virus. The best way to prevent the flu is to be immunized every year.

Local Flu Vaccine Clinics – Individuals Aged 5 and Older

NEW! Northumberland Family Health Team is offering flu shot clinic this Wednesday (Dec. 23 from 1-3:30 pm in the lower level of Northumberland Mall (1111 Elgin St. W.) in Cobourg. Call 289-252-2139 to book an appointment.

Flu vaccine is now available at local pharmacies and through health care providers. Please contact your doctor or pharmacist directly to get the vaccine. Click here for a list of flu vaccine locations in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes.

Flu Vaccine Clinics for Children Under 5

If your child is under the age of five years, the Health Unit is offering flu vaccine clinics by appointment. At these clinics, your child will receive their flu vaccine with full COVID-19 prevention measures in place. Book your child’s flu vaccine appointment by calling the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1507.

Flu Vaccine and COVID-19

During COVID-19, it’s extra important to get the flu vaccine. Getting the flu vaccine reduces your risk of influenza. The flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19 because the viruses are very different and distinct.

But in getting the flu vaccine this winter, you will be better protected against the flu. This means there is less likelihood you will have to go to the doctor or hospital for influenza treatment. Getting your flu vaccine helps ensure needed health care resources can be deployed to respond to COVID-19.

Additional Resources:

COVID Alert Tracing App

Download the COVID Alert app to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

This free, easy-to-use app will:

  • Notify you if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19
  • Offer advice on what to do next
  • Let others who have been in close contact with you know if you test positive for the virus (without sharing personal information).

The app does not collect personal information or health data, and does not know or track the location, name, address, or contacts of any user.

The more people who download COVID Alert, the more effective it is. The app can reduce the spread of COVID-19 by more quickly identifying potential new cases and contacts.

To download or learn more, visit:

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