Similar to the top doctor’s evaluation in Peel Region, Toronto’s medical officer of health is recommending the city move to the “grey-lockdown” zone of the province’s reopening framework next week with the stay-at-home order set to expire.
Toronto has been under stringent lockdown measures for over 100 days and a shift to the province’s colour-tiered framework would lift some restrictions.
The city entered its second lockdown on Nov. 23 of last year. Premier Doug Ford issued another state of emergency and eventually transferred the province into lockdown on Boxing Day with a stay-at-home order going into effect on January 14.
The grey zone would see some capacity limits for businesses and stores must post capacity limits publicly. This includes 50 percent capacity for supermarkets and other stores that primarily sell groceries, convenience stores and pharmacies. All other retail would be capped at 25 percent capacity, including, but not limited to discount and big-box retailers, liquor stores, hardware stores, and garden centres. Curbside pick-up and delivery are permitted.
Gyms, movie theatres, and hair salons would remain closed under this tier. Indoor dining remains prohibited while takeout and delivery would be allowed.
Dr. Eileen de Villa said Wednesday that variants of concern are rising and more than doubled from a week ago.
“I said throughout the pandemic I am guided by the facts as they are,” she said. “I understand that each course of action comes with benefits and costs. Overall, case counts at present call for a cautious approach that will allow us to reopen and do so as safely as possible.”
De Villa said opening under the “Red-Control” zone is not advisable at this time. She also issued new workplace orders to offer protection for people on the job.
Businesses must ensure the use of masks at all times throughout the duration of the outbreak and to maintain records of every person entering the workplace, among other measures.
“Case counts are down but variant cases are up,” de Villa added.
Toronto’s top doctor confirmed 126 new COVID-19 variant cases: 122 B.1.1.7 (first discovered in the U.K.), three cases of the P.1 variant (first discovered in Brazil), and one case of the B.1.351 variant (first found in South Africa).
“The variant number is not where I want it to be,” she continued.
In Peel, Dr. Lawrence Loh said numbers in the region have not improved enough to warrant eased restrictions, and the region has seen a “reversal of the favourable trends” in recent weeks.
The most recent numbers in Peel Region show the region seeing 13.6 cases per 100,000 with a test positivity rate of 5.4 percent.
Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie said last week she wanted the city to be put into the ‘Red-Control’ zone when the order expired, even if the rest of the region remained in lockdown.
Both Dr. Loh and Brampton mayor Patrick Brown rejected the idea of having different public health measures within the same region.
York Region, as well as Halton and Durham, have since moved to “Red-Control” which allows indoor dining of a maximum of 10 patrons, among other measures.