Waterloo region returns to the red zone on Tuesday. Here's what that means

The province has announced Waterloo region will return to the "red" zone in the colour-coded COVID-19 framework. Here's what that means.

Restaurants can open to limited in-person dining, grocery stores can be at 75% capacity

Waterloo region will enter the red zone of the province's colour-coded COVID-19 framework on Tuesday. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

The stay-at-home order will be lifted in Waterloo region at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday and the community will enter the red — or control — zone of the province's colour-coded COVID-19 framework, it was announced Friday.

Red is the second-most strict level behind the grey — or lockdown — zone. It means the region's hospital and intensive care unit capacity is at risk of being overwhelmed and public health may be having a hard time keeping up with contact tracing, but have fewer cases than areas in the grey zone, the province's website says.

Schools, child care centres and post-secondary institutions remain open no matter what zone the community is in.

The provincial government also notes people must wear a face covering "that covers their mouth, nose and chin inside any business or place that is open, with some exceptions."

Social gatherings

Gatherings are permitted, limited to:

  • Five people indoors.
  • 25 people outdoors.

The province says religious services and weddings can have 30 per cent capacity indoors and a maximum of 100 people outdoors. Drive-in services are permitted.

The Region of Waterloo says funeral gatherings in municipal cemeteries will increase from a 10 person maximum to 25 people, including clergy, but excluding funeral or cemetery staff, Distancing and masks are mandatory. 


In person shopping is permitted in all stores but there are capacity limits. They say:

  • Supermarkets and other stores that primarily sell groceries, convenience stores and pharmacies may operate at 75 per cent capacity.
  • All other retail stores, including big box retailers, hardware stores, liquor stores, clothing stores and garden centres may operate at 50 per cent capacity.
  • The Kitchener Market will be open Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. However, the indoor food hall will remain open for takeout only. 

Capacity limits must be posted publicly. As well, stores must post "passive" screening for patrons, such as a sign reminding people not to enter if they have COVID-19 symptoms or may have been exposed to the virus.

Face coverings must be worn and physical distancing must be maintained.

Available fitting rooms must be non-adjacent stalls.

Curbside pickup and delivery are still permitted.


Malls will need to screen people who enter the mall.

10 people are allowed to be in the food court.

A safety plan is required.

Restaurants and bars

A maximum of 10 patrons can be seated indoors with a maximum of four people at a table. Outdoor dining, takeout, drive through and delivery are permitted. 

Other rules to note include:

  • Buffet-style service is not allowed.
  • Face coverings must be worn except when eating or drinking.
  • People lining up to go inside must remain two metres apart and must wear face coverings.
  • People entering will be asked screening questions.
  • People will be required to provide contact information for anyone sitting at the table.
  • People must be at least two metres apart or an impermeable barrier is required between tables.
  • Restaurants and bars must close between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • Liquor can only be sold from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and it cannot be consumed on site between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m.
  • Dancing, singing and live music performances are prohibited.
  • Music must be low enough to allow for normal conversations.

Nightclubs and strip clubs can be open if they operate as a restaurant or bar, following the above rules.

A safety plan is required to be prepared and made available if requested.

Personal care services

Hair dressers, barbers, nail salons and other personal care services can be open with the exception of: 

  • Oxygen bars, steam rooms, saunas, bath houses and other adult venues.
  • Sensory deprivation pods.
  • Services that require a person to remove their face covering.

People will need to be screened when entering the business and will have to provide contact information.

The business is required to have a safety plan.

Sports and recreation facilities

Indoor and outdoor facilities can be open. 

Capacity limits according to the Region of Waterloo are:

  • Indoor: 10 participants per room/space and must comply with physical distancing requirements.
  • Outdoor: ice rink capacity increased to 25 people, provided proper physical distancing can be maintained. No shinny or hockey permitted. Physical distancing must be maintained. 
  • Drop-in recreation programs: Advance-registration is required. These can have a maximum capacity of 10 people

Spectators are not permitted, although one parent or guardian can accompany a person under the age of 18. People can only be in a facility for 90 minutes unless engaging in a sport.

People must maintain a two metre physical distance at all times. There must be increased spacing between patrons to three metres when people are using weights, exercise equipment or in a fitness class.

Other rules of note include:

  • Sports teams can take part in training, but they cannot play games or hold scrimmages.
  • Activities that are "likely to result" in people getting closer than two metres to another person are not permitted.
  • There are exemptions for high performance athletes and parasport.
  • Face coverings must be worn except when exercising.
  • Music must be kept at a reasonable volume to allow for normal conversation.
  • People entering the facility must provide contact information.
  • People entering the facility must also be actively screened for COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Reservations will be required for entry. A team would need one reservation.
  • Bands can rehearse or practice but not perform for in-person audiences. Broadcast performances and live streamed performances are permitted if there is no in-person audience. Additionally, singers and brass or wind instrument musicians must be separated from other performers by impermeable barriers such as plastic sheet glass.
  • A safety plan is required.

Ski hills, marinas and boating clubs can be open, as can golf courses and driving ranges.


Can be open, with capacity limits. Kitchener Public Library is expected to reopen Thursday, Feb. 18. Waterloo Library is expected to reopen Friday, Feb. 19. The Idea Exchanges in Cambridge and the Region of Waterloo libraries are expected to reopen Feb 22. 

Curbside pickup will continue to be available at all locations. 

Museums, art galleries and science centres

Can be open, with capacity and safety limits as defined in the overall guidelines.

Meeting and event spaces

Open with limited capacity where physical distancing can be maintained:

  • 10 people inside.
  • 25 people outside.

Face coverings are mandatory unless someone is eating or drinking.

The rules for meeting and event spaces are very similar to restaurants and bars:

  • They must be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Liquor can only be sold between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and cannot be consumed on site between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m.
  • People will be screened and must provide contact information.
  • There's a limit of four people who can sit together.

Animal services

Veterinarians can be open.

Other businesses that "provide for the health and welfare of animals" can be open. This includes farms, boarding kennels, stables, animal shelters and research facilities.

Businesses that provide services for training service animals can be open.

Businesses that provide services including pet grouping, pet sitting, walking and training can also be open. 

Household services

Cleaning and maintenance services are allowed. This includes: 

  • House cleaners, housekeepers, cooks, maids and butlers.
  • Personal affairs management.
  • Outdoor maintenance including painting, pool cleaning and general repairs.
  • Nanny services and babysitters.
  • Other domestic personnel.


Closed except for drive-ins.

A cinema can be used for a rehearsal or for performing a recorded or broadcast event where:

  • Performers and employees maintain a physical distance except for purposes of the performance. 
  • Singers and musicians of brass or wind instruments must be separated from other performers by plastic  glass or another similar barrier.

The cinema must have a safety plan prepared and made available if requested. The safety plan is a document that outlines how the cinema will control risks in the workplace to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Performing arts facilities

These are closed to spectators but like cinemas, the spaces can be used for rehearsal or for performing a recorded or broadcast event, following safety measures.

Drive-in performances are permitted.

A safety plan is required.

In Cambridge, the Allan Reuter Centre will open only on Thursdays. The Cambridge Centre for the Arts and the David Durward Centre will open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursdays only

Casinos, bingo halls, gaming establishments

Can be open with capacity limits, which are: 

  • 10 people indoors.
  • 25 people outdoors

Table games are prohibited and face coverings are required except when eating and drinking.

Liquor can only be sold between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and cannot be consumed on site between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m.

People will need to be screened when they enter and will need to provide contact information.

A safety plan is also required.

Municipal buildings

The Region of Waterloo advises residents to continue doing as much municipal business as possible online or by phone. It says over-the-counter services at township, city and regional administrative buildings will re-open on Feb. 22. One exception: North Dumfries offices will open on Feb. 16.

All council and committee meetings will remain virtual.

The main floor of Cambridge City Hall will re-open to the public Feb. 22. The city says customer-related services "will be consolidated at the Service Cambridge counter with additional kiosks in the Bowman Room."

Kitchener City Hall will remain closed except for certain appointment-only services beginning on Monday, Feb. 22.