We get to go orange on Tuesday, and some of our neighbours to the south will be green with envy.

The provincial government announced this afternoon that the Porcupine Health Unit area will move out of the lockdown and into the orange – or third most open – level of COVID-19 restrictions.

Among other things, restaurants and bars can reopen, under strict crowd size limits.

Refer to the chart above for details on what it means to be orange.

North Bay-Parry Sound district is among four being kept locked down until at least a week from Monday.

The province has introduced an “emergency brake” for the reopening of all areas of the province.  That brake will be pulled if the number of new COVID-19 cases starts to spike in any region, especially where a variant may be spreading.  The emergency brake will move an area from any level of the province’s framework into the Grey-Lockdown level to control the spread of the virus.

On Monday, Health Minister Christine Elliott said this is not a reopening or a return to normal, but rather an acknowledgment that steady progress is being made to flatten the curve of cases in Ontario.

On Thursday, Dr. Adalsteinn Brown of Ontario’s COVID-19 Advisory Table says cases and hospitalizations are going down, but a third wave and lockdown are a very serious threat right now because of the spread of the variants.

New modelling data shows the increased spread of the variant will likely result in another surge of cases in late February.