“Overall, case counts at present call for a cautious approach that will allow us to reopen and to do so as safely as possible,” Toronto medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa said.
“Based on the data in front of us, it is clear that reopening widely, such as under the red category of the provincial framework, is not advisable at this time given our current case counts.”
Toronto, along with neighbouring Peel Region and North Bay have remained under extended shutdown regulations and a stay-at-home order due to high COVID-19 case counts or variant outbreaks while other areas of Ontario have reentered the province’s framework.
The Ontario government is expected to announce on Friday when and if Peel Region, Toronto and North Bay will move into the colour-coded system.
The shutdown is currently set to remain in place until Monday.
Peel Region’s medical officer of health has also recommended for his area to enter the grey-lockdown category.
“Unfortunately, we are seeing a reversal of the favourable trends that we’ve observed in the last five weeks,” Dr. Lawrence Loh said.
“This is driven by the growth of variants of concern and the loosening of measures in other jurisdictions.”
Dr. de Villa announcing 290 new cases of COVID-19 and 5 new deaths. 1,468 people have screened positive for mutations (it was 1,179 on Monday, 511 last week). The rise of variants, she says, is not good.
— Matthew Bingley (@mattybing) March 3, 2021
On Feb. 24, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said she would advocate for her city to move into the red-control level, but said on Wednesday that she has full confidence in Loh and is disappointed in case trends, which have slightly worsened in the city over the past week. She said she is hopeful that numbers will improve and Mississauga will be able to loosen restrictions further soon.
Meanwhile, De Villa also expressed concern about variants in Toronto and said Wednesday that 1,468 COVID-19 cases have screened positive for variants of concern, up from 1,179 on Monday.
If Toronto and Peel Region do move into the grey-lockdown category, it will allow for the reopening of some businesses with restrictions, including in-person retail shops.
Other restrictions remain in place, however, including the closure of in-person dining at restaurants and bars, as well as personal care services and most fitness facilities. Indoor social gatherings remain limited to members of the same household.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said moving to the grey zone will allow the city to begin to reopen “with caution” and stay open as vaccines continue to be administered.
De Villa also announced on Wednesday that she had issued an order requiring enhanced health and safety measures in workplaces experiencing an active COVID-19 outbreak.
— With files from Gabby Rodrigues
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