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Simcoe Muskoka is in ORANGE - Restrict level classification

See the Province’s COVID-19 response framework: keeping Ontario safe and open for what this means. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) and local municipalities may also implement local public health directions, bylaws, and policies which can exceed the provincial laws and recommendations. 

As local cases of COVID-19 sharply rise to numbers not seen since the spring, in addition to the provincial restrictions we are asking you to be cautious and reduce your exposure within the community. For more information on how to stay safe and stop the spread of COVID 19 click here.

NEW: Special Statement from the Medical Officer of Health – November 24, 2020

Because of COVID-19 and the recent advice to limit your close contacts (the people you can hug and touch without physical distancing) to only those people within your own household and maintain 2 metres (6 feet) physical distancing from everyone else, we have to think of new and different ways to celebrate and connect with each other. This is challenging and stressful for all of us as we would love to spend time with family and friends. We also recognize that not everyone has a household of people and may live alone. If you live alone you may consider having close contact with another household.

Individuals living away from home, including those studying at colleges and universities, should consider doing a self-quarantine, or reducing close contact with others, 10 to 14 days before returning home for the holidays.

As you begin to plan for winter holiday celebrations, we would like to offer the following recommendations to help protect you, your family, friends, and coworkers from COVID-19 this holiday season:

Safer holiday activities:

  • Virtual celebrations with people you don’t live with are the safest way to celebrate with others and ensure we don’t spread COVID-19 especially to your friends and family and those most vulnerable. This year start a new tradition by calling or video chatting, having an online office secret Santa, a Zoom Karaoke or Trivia Night, or joining a religious service online or on television. 
  • Talk with family, friends and coworkers about the traditions you are able to continue, like the ugly sweater contest, sharing a recipe online, making a video of you singing a song or reading a passage.
  • Mail packages to friends and family and have a virtual gift opening. 
  • Outdoor holiday activities such as building a snowman or going on a sleigh ride with members of your household. 
  • Visiting Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus or their elves outdoors and taking photos while keeping 2 metres (6 feet) apart.
  • Attending a drive-in or drive-through event.
  • Watching holiday or other movies with your household. 
  • Lighting your menorah. 
  • Baking holiday treats with your immediate household. 
  • Donating to your favourite holiday charity or toy drive.


Riskier holiday activities:

  • In-person holiday gatherings or events, particularly gatherings where masks or face coverings must be removed to eat or drink. 
  • Indoor holiday activities such as having overnight guests or sleepovers with friends or people outside your household.
  • Visiting Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus or their elves indoors and taking photos without being 2 metres (6 feet) apart. Children are not permitted to sit on Santa's lap this year.
  • Visiting family and friends for non-essential reasons.
  • Individuals and families in higher transmission areas should avoid going to lower transmission areas, except for essential reasons. 
  • Hosting or attending social gatherings or organized public events that do not adhere to provincial or local requirements.

Travel within Ontario

  • Individuals and families in higher transmission areas should avoid travel to lower transmission areas (e.g. from Red to Orange, from Yellow to Green) except for essential reasons.

Inter-provincial Travel

  • Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. 
  • Individuals and families who consider travelling to another province for essential reasons during the holidays should:
    o Consider the risk associated with travelling. This includes COVID-19 transmission in the other province, entry requirements (e.g. quarantine) of some other provinces, etc.
    o Self-quarantine, or drastically reduce close contact with others 10 to 14 days before travelling and after returning home. This will help lower the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
    o General (Ontario) public health advice, as well as any rules and regulations of the other province, should be followed.

If you decide to travel, follow these safety measures during your trip to protect yourself and others from COVID-19:

  • Stay home if you are sick and do not travel. 
  • Avoid close contact by staying 2 metres (6 feet) apart from people you don’t live with. 
  • Wear a mask in all indoor public settings such as public transportation, at events and gatherings, and anywhere you will be around other people. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 15 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Gathering limits

  • The limit for indoor social gatherings is 10 people;
  • The limit for outdoor social gatherings is 25 people. 
  • People are required to comply with public health guidance on physical distancing; 
  • Indoor and outdoor limits cannot be combined to increase the limit; 
  • The specified limits apply to gatherings even if in a private dwelling, including houses, apartment buildings, condominium buildings and post-secondary student residences; 
  • The limits do not apply to a gathering of members of a single household.

Safer ways to host a gathering

  • Considering your own health when you think about whether or not to host a gathering. If you are over 70 years of age or have health conditions that put you at added risk, look for virtual ways to connect instead.
  • Think about how many people can easily stay 2 metres (6 feet) apart in the space, without going over the gathering limit of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
  • Only come in close physical contact (e.g. shaking hands or hugging) with people you live with.
  • Always maintain 2 metres (6 feet) physical distancing from everyone else, or wear a mask when maintaining distance is not possible. 
  • Arrange seating before your guests arrive to ensure different household groups stay 2 metres (6 feet) apart. 
  • Have disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer for guests to use when entering the home or outdoor area, and clean and disinfect any shared items.
  • Plan for how guests will use the washroom to limit people touching the same objects, such as by using individual towelettes so that everyone uses their own personal piece of paper towel to dry their hands after they've washed them. 
  • Make a list of guests attending in case public health needs it for contact tracing. 
  • Maintain any music at a volume that is low, to avoid requiring people having to shout, as this increases the spread of droplets and thus transmission

Do NOT host a gathering if: 

  • You have tested positive for COVID-19, have been exposed to COVID-19, have been recently tested and are waiting for results, or have travelled outside of Canada within the last 14 days.
  • Anyone in your household has symptoms of COVID-19. 
  • You are increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
  • You have travelled outside of Canada within the last 14 days

If you choose to serve food or drinks at your gathering

  • Wash your hands before and during food preparation.
  • Don’t serve buffet-style food and make a plan for how you will physically distance while offering food and cleaning up afterward. 
  • Serve food on individual plates to prevent your guests from passing and touching the same objects, OR ask guests to bring their own supplies including cutlery, glassware, food and drinks. 
  • Have everyone wash their hands before and after eating.

Safer ways to attend a gathering

  • Do not attend a gathering if:
    o You have tested positive for COVID-19, have been exposed to COVID-19, have been recently tested and are waiting for results, or have travelled outside of Canada within the last 14 days.
    o You or anyone in your household has symptoms of COVID-19.
    o You are increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
    o You have travelled outside of Canada within the last 14 days
  • Only come in close physical contact (e.g. shaking hands or hugging) with people you live with.
  • Always maintain 2 metres (6 feet) physical distancing from everyone else, or wear a mask when maintaining distance is not possible. 
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer regularly throughout the event. 
  • Ask in advance what the plan is for using washrooms and providing food or drinks. You should ensure that you are not touching the same objects as people you don’t live with, and that you hand sanitize if you do. 
  • Avoid using washrooms at high traffic times, such as at the end of an event or gathering. 
  • Avoid busy eating areas, such as restaurants during high volume mealtimes, if you plan to eat out at a restaurant. Only attend restaurants with your household members.
  • Minimize gestures that promote close contact. For example, do not shake hands, bump elbows, or give hugs. Instead wave and verbally greet others. 
  • Avoid dancing, singing, chanting, or shouting, especially when not wearing a mask and within 6 feet of others.

After attending a gathering

If you feel that the gathering you attended could have put you at risk of exposure to COVID-19 you should:

  • Assess yourself for one or more symptoms of COVID-19 daily for a full 14 days following the gathering or event.
  • If you develop symptoms self-isolate, go for testing and contact the host and others that attended the gathering or event you attended. They may need to inform other attendees about their possible exposure to the virus.

The following two forms can be used instead of a doctor’s note for return to usual activities.

A class order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act has been issued by Simcoe Muskoka’s Medical Officer of Health (MOH) to immediately limit all indoor visits at long-term care homes to one essential visitor at a time and stop general visiting to protect vulnerable elderly residents from COVID-19.

The order applies to all long-term care homes in Simcoe County and the District of Muskoka. It does not apply to retirement homes or other congregate care settings.

The order also directs residents to not leave the facility for short-stay or temporary absences except for seeking health care. Outdoor onsite visits continue to be allowed with physical distancing of 2 meters (6 feet) in place.

The order identifies essential visitors as a person who is not a staff member of the facility but is performing essential support services such as healthcare or maintenance; a person visiting a very ill or palliative resident; or a caregiver designated by the resident or their substitute decision maker who comes in to provide direct care and support to the resident.

This ensures that a family member or designate who comes in to help a resident with their meals, personal hygiene, mental stimulation, communications or other needs will not be prevented from visiting. A maximum of two caregivers may be designated as essential for a resident at this time.

class order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act has been issued by Simcoe Muskoka’s Medical Officer of Health (MOH) to enforce COVID-19 self-isolation requirements. The order takes effect October 6, 2020 and remains in effect until the MOH declares it is no longer needed.

The order applies to any person living or present in the County of Simcoe and District of Muskoka who:

  • is identified as a person diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • has the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, has been tested for COVID-19 and is awaiting the results of their test;
  • otherwise has reasonable grounds to believe they have one or more symptoms of COVID-19; or
  • is a close contact of a person identified as a person diagnosed with COVID-19.

If you think you have any symptoms of COVID-19, use the provincial COVID self-assessment tool, and if indicated by the tool, get tested and self-isolate at home for 10 days (the period of time you are contagious) or until your test result is negative for COVID-19.

If you have been identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, which means being within 2 metres (6 feet) of that infected person for at least 15 minutes without adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), you must self-isolate for 14 days even though you don’t have symptoms. This is because the COVID-19 incubation period (the period between exposure to an infection and the appearance of the first symptoms) can be up to 14 days. Adequate PPE is using both medical grade surgical/procedural mask and protective eyewear. Cloth face coverings are not adequate PPE.

Individuals who fail to comply with the order may be liable for a fine of up to $5,000 for every day or part of each day on which the offence occurs or continues.

Inform us if you require any help or resources to properly self-isolate or while you are self-isolating such as food, medication, water, accommodation, clothing, appropriate medical treatment and family or other religious arrangements. To do so, call (705) 721-7520

For more information see Fact Sheet for Class Order for Self-Isolation.

The following are recommendations to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 when hunting. With the rapidly changing case count and risk level for COVID-19, recommendations and regulations around COVID-19 are changing regularly. Please visit our website often and be prepared to revise your plans accordingly.

Before You Go 

  • Due to rising COVID-19 cases in the province, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has urged everyone to limit trips outside of home for only essential purposes. Please keep this in mind when deciding whether to go hunting. 
  • When possible, plan to hunt within your own community. If going to a hunt camp, follow any travel advisories and consider COVID-19 transmission rates in the area where you plan to hunt to help reduce transmission of COVID-19 between geographic areas. 
  • Pack supplies that help prevent the spread of COVID-19 (e.g. hand soap, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, face coverings/masks, cleaning/disinfectant supplies). 
  • If you are feeling ill or displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or if you have come into contact with someone who has shown symptoms or has tested positive, do not go hunting. Use the provincial COVID self-assessment tool, and if indicated by the tool, get tested and self-isolate at home.

When Travelling to the Hunting Site/Hunt Camp 

Travel in the same vehicle with only those who live in your household. 

  • If you plan to travel in the same vehicle as someone outside of your household you should follow these recommendations:
    o Limit of two people per vehicle. The second person should sit in the back, passenger-side seat to ensure proper distance from the driver.
    Face coverings/masks should be worn while in the vehicle for the duration of the trip.

At Your Hunting Site/Hunt Camp

  • Keep groups at one camp to 10 people or less (to comply with Ontario’s indoor gathering limits). 
  • If the group is larger and divides into groups of 10 or less, each with separate accommodations (tents, trailers, buildings), each of these accommodations would have its own indoor gathering limit. In this case, the maximum number of people allowed on the entire camp property would be up to 25 people (as per Ontario’s limit on outdoor gatherings). 
  • Maintain 2 metres (6 feet) of space from other hunters who are outside your household. 
  • If physical distancing is not possible, wear a face covering/mask. This applies at camp or in hunting blinds (especially if enclosed). 
  • Bring your own tent/trailer to reduce your exposure to others. 
  • Do not share hunting gear/equipment or personal items (e.g. cutlery, cooking utensils). 
  • Socialize outdoors rather than inside tents, trailers or buildings. 
  • Avoid buffet-style meals. Have people prepare/cook their own meals while maintaining physical distancing. If eating a meal together, have one person make/serve the meal while wearing a face covering. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Sneeze and cough into your sleeve. 
  • Clean and disinfect common and high-touch surfaces (e.g. door handles, taps, etc.). 
  • Track the names and contact information of people in your hunting party, just in case contact tracing is needed should someone get COVID-19. 

NOTE: Conservation Officers with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry have the power to enforce and issue fines for breaches of COVID-19 gathering limits and other rules.

If Someone Develops Symptoms of COVID-19 While Hunting

  • If someone develops one or more symptoms of COVID-19, have a plan to communicate with the group and have the individual self-isolate immediately.
  • f it is a medical emergency, call 911. 
  • Self-isolation should continue when travelling home (if possible, otherwise physical distancing should be maintained as described above and face coverings worn). 
  • Upon returning home, individual(s) with symptoms should continue to self-isolate (including ideally from members of their household). Use the provincial COVID self-assessment tool, and if indicated by the tool, get tested and continue to self-isolate at home for 10 days (the period of time you are contagious) or until your test result is negative for COVID-19.

When you Arrive Home from Hunting

  • Assess yourself for one or more symptoms of COVID-19 daily for a full 14 days following the hunt. 
  • If you develop symptoms self-isolate, seek testing and notify the members of your hunting party.

COVID-19 is spread through close contact with an infected person. Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit uses contact tracing as an effective tool to slow and control the spread of COVID-19. There are a variety of situations in which you may be exposed to someone who has recently tested positive for COVID-19. If you have been identified as a close contact, and have been informed by public health or by someone in your life who has tested positive it is very important that you take the following steps to stop the spread of COVID-19:

  • Stay home and self-isolate for 14 days after your last contact with the person who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Only leave the house to get tested. For testing centre locations visit our assessment centres and testing page.
  • Monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • If you do get tested you must still self-isolate while you wait for your results. Even if your test result is negative you must continue to self-isolate for the full 14 days.

    For full information on what to do if you have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 read this fact sheet (revised November 30, 2020). 

Local example of COVID-19 Spread - Diagram

Diagram of a COVID-19 outbreak

Some important messages to remember:

  • People who are in close contact with others, for example who live in the same household, or who work together in the same workplace or gather with friends to visit without physical distancing and/or use of a face covering, can all be at risk of getting COVID-19 from someone who has the virus.
  • You may be considered a high risk contact if you have been within 2 metres (6 feet) of a positive case for at least 15 minutes. High risk contacts need to isolate for 14 days (from last exposure to case).
  • Public health follows up with all COVID-19 cases, as well as with anybody considered a high risk contact. In large workplaces, schools or gatherings, this could potentially be many people.
  • To avoid getting COVID-19, it is important to stay at least 2 metres (6 feet) away from others outside of your household when possible, clean hands frequently, and wear a face covering. If you are sick, stay home and if you have symptoms of COVID-19 get tested.

When you enter into a public indoor space a (e.g. grocery store, community centre, shopping mall, hair salon, library, place of worship, etc.), a workplace, even those not open to the public, common areas of apartment buildings, condominium buildings, and student residences or use a public transit (e.g. bus, taxis or ride share) you are required to wear a mask or face covering. See section 2. of Ontario Regulation 364/20.

There are some situations when you do not need to wear a face covering. Click here for the full list.

These additional public health measures remain in effect in all indoor and outdoor settings:

  • Maintain physical distancing of at least 2 metres (6 feet) from people outside of your household. 
  • Stay home if sick and get tested for COVID-19. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer .

The following instructions can help you make your own face covering to help protect yourself and others.

FAQ - Wearing masks or face coverings within enclosed public spaces - (revised October 22, 2020)


How is COVID-19 affecting you and your family?

Since March, our lives have been affected in many different ways by the COVID-19 pandemic. The health unit conducted a situational assessment in July to understand the impacts that some public health measures have had on us. The first section below includes the reports and findings of this assessment. The second section includes a report on an evaluation of and lessons learned by the public health system from the first peak of COVID-19

Our health unit, along with several other public health agencies, completed a situational assessment from April to July 2020 to determine how community-based public health measures are negatively affecting the health and well-being of the general population and sub-populations, and to identify ways to help reduce these effects.

The situational assessment includes several parts, which together inform the overall report findings and considerations for further action. The final report and each of its component reports are linked below.

Final Report:
• Mitigating Harms of COVID-19 Public Health Measures: Situational Assessment Report (July 2020)

Environmental Scan: 
• Mitigating Negative Effects of COVID-19 Public Health Measures – Environmental Scan: Key Informant Interviews

Epidemiological Data:
• Epidemiological Data on Potential Impacts of the COVID-19 Community-Based Public Health Measures

Literature Reviews:

• Mitigating Unintended Harms of COVID-19 Public Health Measures (SMDHU) 

• Negative impacts of community-based public health measures during a pandemic (e.g. COVID-19) on children and families (Public Health Ontario)

• Substance Use-Related Harms and Risk Factors during Periods of Disruption (Public Health Ontario) 

• Mitigating Unintended Harms of COVID-19 Public Health Measures among Low Income Populations Rapid Review (Timiskaming Health Unit)

Additional literature review recently completed but not included in the final report: 
• Impacts of Community-Based Public Health Measures During Respiratory Outbreaks or Pandemics on Adolescents and Young Adults (Southwestern Public Health)

The Public Health System Evaluation and Lessons from the First Peak of COVID-19 , by the Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health (COMOH), describes the role of the local public health system during the first COVID-19 peak and provides lessons learned and identified opportunities that collectively form foundations to build upon in preparation for the next phase as we wait for an effective vaccine.
At present, you can also do something important for your family, friends, neighbours and community by helping researchers understand how the pandemic is affecting people. This information will assist policy makers to understand our community’s health, social service and economic needs. Please consider participating in the following study.
The COHESION study, led by a team of researchers across Canada, evaluates the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on individuals like you, across the country. With data you provide by completing online surveys and installing a smartphone app, you help understand how daily activities, social interactions, and the mental health of Canadians are being affected throughout, and following, the pandemic. To participate visit

Page last updated: December 1, 2020

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