Covid-19 Northumberland Update 2

The Province has introduced a more complex system of assigning risk levels to Health Districts with five colour coded levels: Green (Prevent), Yellow (Protect), Orange (Restrict), Red (Control) and Grey (Lockdown).  As the labels suggest, these go progressively from mild restrictions to severe.  Cobourg is in the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit and is currently assigned Green.  Links below give more details but I will summarize what this all means for people living in Cobourg.  The whole process is based on science and measurements – the first measure is Weekly Incidence Rate and to be classified as green, this has to be less than 10 cases per 100,000.  At the other end of the scale, Red is more than 40 per 100,000 and lockdown is declared if it’s getting worse than that.

Other measures include % positivity (Green is less than 0.5 and Red is greater than 2.5%) and whether hospitals can cope.

Covid Levels
Covid Levels

Current levels in nearby communities

Green (Prevent): Hastings and Prince Edward Counties (includes Belleville)
Yellow (Protect): Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington; Peterborough
Red (Control): Durham Region (Includes Oshawa)
Grey (Lockdown): Peel Region, Toronto.

Green Restrictions (Summary – selected items)

In General

  • Social Distancing required and masks worn inside.
  • Most establishments must have an approved Health/Safety plan
  • Limits on gatherings – public or private where social distancing can be maintained:
    • Functions, parties, dinners, gatherings BBQs or wedding receptions held in private residences, backyards, or parks: 10 people indoors;  25 people outdoors
    • Organized Public Events, Social Gatherings, Religious Services including events and gatherings in staffed businesses and facilities: Indoors 50 people or 30% capacity of the room, 100 people outdoors

Restaurants and bars

  • Require patrons to be seated;
  • 2m minimum or impermeable barrier required between tables
  • Dancing, singing and performing music is permitted, with restrictions
  • Require contact information for one patron per seated party
  • No buffet style service
  • Face coverings except when eating or drinking only


  • Maximum of 50 spectators indoors or 100 spectators outdoors
  • Team or individual sports must be modified to avoid physical contact; 50 people per league
  • Masks required
  • No loud music which would cause people to shout to be heard.


  • Fitting rooms must be limited to non-adjacent stalls
  • Limit of 50 people indoors applies


  • 50 people per indoor auditorium if cinema operates in accordance with an approved plan
  • Face coverings except when eating or drinking only

Performing Arts Facilities

  • Singers and players of wind or brass instruments must be separated from spectators by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier
  • Performers and employees must maintain 2m physical distance except for purposes of the performance.

Restrictions for other zones are progressively more strict and in lockdown, many places are closed with stores only allowed to operate with curb-side pickup.

But being in a Green zone, Cobourg mostly just needs to wear masks inside and not have groups bigger than 50. Note: the distinction between the two limitations on group sizes is not clear so when in doubt, choose the more stringent rule.

But according to the latest count, Northumberland alone had 10 new cases in the last week (71 on Nov 24 and 61 on Nov 17) so we could soon be moving to the Yellow zone where the weekly incident rate is 10 to 25.  Restaurants and Gyms would then have more restrictions such as reduced hours and require the names of all patrons.  However, the case limit is averaged over 2 weeks so we may yet be OK.


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Wally Keeler
30 November 2020 1:28 pm

HKPRD Health Unit
Nov 28

The Health Unit has declared an outbreak at the Canadian Centre for Addictions in Port Hope. This is the second outbreak to be declared in two days:

26 November 2020 1:29 pm

Why are we allowing hockey teams from a red zones who’s arenas are closed come to Cobourg and play at the community centre when there is a walking track mostly used by seniors. Surely this goes against everything the Government wants and endangers the local community. Also why is the hospital allowing people from restricted areas come to the hospital to be tested for COVID

Maggie's Mom
25 November 2020 5:16 pm

Is there any way our Health Unit can tells us the general location of active cases? It is important for me to know how many are in Cobourg or warkworth, for example.

John Draper
Reply to  Maggie's Mom
25 November 2020 5:29 pm

The Health Unit cites privacy as to why they cannot give further details. If there is an outbreak they let us know but not individual cases. I agree it’s frustrating.

Reply to  John Draper
25 November 2020 5:47 pm

Privacy is given as the reason why all sorts of information is not made public. Often it appears to be used to protect persons in authority. The shootings in Nova Scotia are a prime example.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  John Draper
25 November 2020 6:43 pm

Back in April Toronto had a similar policy for “privacy reasons”. In an interview one health department official said that if people knew the location of hot spots they would avoid shopping there. Duh! Wouldn’t that be prudent? Toronto now provides location data. Why can’t Northumberland?

Eva Nichols
25 November 2020 5:11 pm

I complained to the Health Unit about a business that allowed in a person without a mask, only to be told that the store has the right to do what they want. WRONG!!!!! and this from a woman who answers the phone at Health Unit. The province has clearly mandated mask in public locations.

Reply to  Eva Nichols
25 November 2020 7:50 pm

Maybe they had a medical exemption.

Reply to  Eva Nichols
25 November 2020 10:36 pm

I was surprised to see the person controlling access to a local grocery store not wearing a mask, yet speaking to everyone who entered. I’ve noticed it a number of times at this particular business.

Fact Checker
Reply to  JimT
25 November 2020 11:38 pm


The cart handler/door guard is outside. No need for a mask.

Reply to  Eva Nichols
26 November 2020 8:38 am

Eva – did you speak with the store manager before going to the Health Unit? What do you mean by “allowed”? You don’t know the individual circumstances…don’t be a mask-shamer – mind your business, wear your mask, socially distance and wash your hands… From what I see in my daily life, stores, restaurants, gyms, service providers, public areas, etc within our area do an exceptional job of adherence to public health “guidelines.”

Fact Checker
Reply to  Eva Nichols
26 November 2020 8:52 am

This CBC article is dated June 2020 and while a bit dated may help outline the “rules” regarding masks and public spaces Can a store force me to wear a mask in order to shop there? Some stores across the country have made it mandatory for shoppers to wear a mask, which has some of our readers, like Vel B., wondering if those policies can actually be enforced.  The short answer is yes, retailers can enforce the rule. But it can get more complicated in certain situations.  In the same way a store can tell you “No shoes, no shirt, no service,” they can insist “No mask, no service,” according to Michael Bryant, executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and a former Ontario attorney general. The argument can be made on the basis of health and safety regulations in their store. “There’s no law backing the store up, but there’s no stopping the store either,” Bryant said. Richard Powers, business professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, said that because they are private businesses, they can set the terms for their clients any way they choose. What if you can’t wear a mask — or don’t want to? “If someone adamantly refuses to put on a mask, the store owner can refuse to let them into the store,” Powers said.   But there are caveats. And because there’s currently no law or emergency order requiring people to wear masks, it gets a bit tricky. Some reasons customers might refuse to wear a mask: “[If] someone had a face covering for religious reasons and didn’t want to also put a mask on, or if the person is suspecting they’re being targeted because they are a racialized minority, or if the person seems to be being targeted because they appear to be… Read more »

Last edited 2 years ago by Fact Checker
25 November 2020 8:31 am

So what do you do when supposedly safely seated in a restaurant 2 Mtrs from any one else
at the start of your meal and before you know it you are being surrounded by other patrons at a much closed distance say just over 1 mtr. ?? I just experienced this on Fri. night
here in Cobourg We Call the health Dept to complain on Mon. and of course got a return call 2 days latter The response was its up to the Towns By Law enforcement Guess what they said

Reply to  Sandpiper
25 November 2020 8:38 am


Reply to  greengrass
25 November 2020 9:09 am

The usual we would have to hire more people to deal with that
The Tax payers won’ t like that .
I responded re purpose someone from a different department thats not working from home They Hang up ! I just saw in the Toronto News that the Police are enforcing
over crowded restaurants may be our police might stop in rather than the usual drive by

Reply to  Sandpiper
25 November 2020 3:04 pm

Is it fair to assume that you raised the issue while you are at the restaurant? What did the restaurant Manager say when you mentioned it to her/him that night? Did the waitress make an attempt to accommodate you in a different area or perhaps move tables/chairs to ensure the social distancing was possible? Was there a physical barrier between the chairs/tables the could allow for something less than 6 feet – some restaurants have taken this approach.

In my opinion, if you didn’t raise the issue on Friday night with the front-of-the-house manager but you chose to call the Health Unit or Municipal office days later, you aren’t part of the solution. My experience during this pandemic is that restauranteurs are incredibly eager and accommodating and want guests to have a safe and enjoyable dinning experience. Calling the Health Unit or Municipal office could put the business at risk as well as other patrons. These aren’t bad people trying to do terrible things….in most cases these are small businesses barely scraping by.

Cobourg Senior
25 November 2020 8:17 am

Thanks John for providing this clear and concise summary of what can be a very confusing and seemingly constantly changing restrictions, guidelines and regs. Very useful for those of us trying to sort through a fluctuating “scene”

Reply to  Cobourg Senior
25 November 2020 8:41 am

a RED stop light neans STOP? why not this guidline?

Reply to  greengrass
25 November 2020 11:46 am

Its slightly more complex than Green means GO….

Liz Taylor
24 November 2020 7:49 pm

Reported on the 6 o’clock news a business outside the lock down zone stated they would be checking people’s addresses before allowing them access. It is reported people from the restricted zones are making their way to the unrestricted zones to shop. What are the plans for this to prevent spread of COVID-19? Anyone?

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Liz Taylor
24 November 2020 10:15 pm

My barber checks when she books appointments. It should be the norm but it is difficult for many businesses to verify customer addresses. Even the suggestion that visitors should be prevented from using our beach was decried by a vocal minority who value tourism more than the health of residents.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Ken Strauss
24 November 2020 11:30 pm

The Mayor of Peterborough, Diane Therrien, was on CHEX News Ken. She stated that she was actively discouraging people from coming to Peterborough from Durham, Peel and Toronto. As public officials you would think more would be doing this. I recall the vocal miniority out in from of Victoria Hall all summer long also stating no one should wear masks. I was surprised more of these people were not fined and actively discouraged when you consider it is life and death for many.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Liz Taylor
25 November 2020 4:29 am

Ken there is a survey open to Dec. 4 on the town and tourism. Myself I recommended tourism should be curtailed until after the vaccine and it is under control.

Unfortunately the town needs infrastructure, businesses may need an assist, affordable housing – rents where I am have gone up 66% in the 7 years I have lived in this building. Home owners are also feeling the pinch with increased property taxes in building further housing while we await relief from COVID should hopefully get us all some relief. I recall you stating in a prior blog things would be very tight financially in the next year for all of us. Hope you and other will take the survey. It is truly a frightening situation.

John Draper
Reply to  Liz Taylor
25 November 2020 8:12 am

That survey is intended primarily for merchants – I started to do it but found I didn’t fit the group it was intended for. I recommend that only people with businesses that might be affected by tourists should do that particular survey.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  John Draper
25 November 2020 8:33 am

The Northumberland News report ( says that residents should take the survey and includes a link to the survey.
Note that one of the survey questions asks if you are a business, resident or visitor. The town needs to consider the interests of everyone rather than just businesses.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ken Strauss
Reply to  Ken Strauss
25 November 2020 9:37 am

I just did the survey, but I couldn’t make any comments, as I am not sure how ‘tourism’ may affect the town, either way?

Reply to  John Draper
25 November 2020 8:44 am

10-4 John

SW Buyer
Reply to  John Draper
25 November 2020 10:33 am

I just did the survey. While aimed at local business, it did have a tick box for local resident. The survey reflects the prevailing (but waning) myth that Cobourg is a “must visit” tourist destination with superior shopping and other tourist attractions. The truth is Cobourg has a beach…a very good one. Many tourists come for the beach. That’s it. And they spend very little.
You don’t need a survey to discover this. Just walk along King St W and talk to the business owners. You will find that most do not rely on tourists to stay in business and that, for the most part, tourists contribute little to the profitability of their business. This is especially true of the beach crowd.
The bottom line….the Town should not be spending taxpayer money shilling for local businesses. If business owners believe that tourist advertising is a good investment and they benefit, then they should pay for it.

Last edited 2 years ago by SW Buyer
John Draper
Reply to  SW Buyer
25 November 2020 11:01 am

It’s also not a survey by the Town – it’s by the DBIA. I don’t understand why it’s being distributed outside DBIA Members.

SW Buyer
Reply to  John Draper
25 November 2020 11:15 am

Agree on the distribution.
If anybody knows about tourism and downtown business, it should be the DBIA. Why do they need a public survey? Just ask their members.

Paul Pagnuelo
Reply to  Liz Taylor
25 November 2020 3:51 pm

I remember them only too well and the fake Rebel news stories about the beach. Wonder if any of them got COVID?

They probably are all members of the flat earth society. It took awhile but Council made the right decision.

Reply to  Liz Taylor
25 November 2020 10:38 am

Kind of why the Cobourg beach was closed in the summer. The beach was closed when there were very few covid case in relation to todays numbers. This is why decisions on our beach now should be a priority. I will support any restaurant that attempts to serve residents of Northumberland County by asking for Id before being seated. To answer your question,i dont believe anything can be done.