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Toronto to enter grey zone on Monday

by Jonathan Bradley

Stay-at-home order lifted as case numbers and hospitalizations decline 

Block letters spell #stayhome
COVID-19 lockdown (Alexas Fotos/Unsplash) 

The Ontario government, in consultation with Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams, will be transitioning Toronto, Peel Region, and North Bay Parry Sound District out of shutdown on Monday, according to a press release issued on Friday. 

The stay-at-home order will be lifted on Monday. 

Seven other regions are being moved to different levels in the COVID-19 response framework

Minister of Health Christine Elliott said in the press release that all decisions have been made in consultation with the local medical officers of health, and they are based on the latest trends in public health indicators. 

“Our government is taking a safe and cautious approach to returning to the framework and due to our progress, all regions of the province will soon be out of the provincewide shutdown,” said Elliott. “Despite this positive step forward, a return to the framework is not a return to normal. As we continue vaccinating more Ontarians, it remains critical for everyone to continue to follow public health measures and stay home as much as possible to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities.”

Toronto and Peel have been making progress, but they will be returning to the grey-lockdown zone because their case rates remain high. North Bay Parry Sound will be going into the red control zone. 

The grey-lockdown zone allows grocery stores, convenience stores, and pharmacies to be open subject to a 50 per cent capacity limit. Other retail stores will have a 25 per cent capacity limit. Curbside pickup and delivery are permitted, and all stores have to post capacity limits. 

The latest modelling data shows the efforts of Ontarians in abiding by public health measures and advice is working to decrease the number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths across the province. 

Williams said the COVID-19 variants have continued to spread, so the actions of people over the next few weeks will be critical in maintaining the progress Ontario has made. 

“While all regions have returned to the framework, everyone must remain vigilant to help prevent any further increases in transmission,” said Williams. “The best defence against the virus and all of its variants of concern remains continuing to stay at home, avoiding social gatherings, only travelling outside of your community for essential purposes, and limiting close contacts to your household or those you live with.”

He will continue to consult with public health and other experts, review data, and provide advice to the Ontario government on the appropriate measures needed to protect people’s health. 

Toronto’s case rates have decreased by 15.7 per cent to 66.4 cases per 100,000 people. Hospitalizations have seen an 11.2 per cent decrease. 

Ontario has introduced an “emergency brake” to allow Williams, in consultation with local medical officers of health, to advise moving a region into grey-lockdown to interrupt transmission. This emergency brake recognizes the risk posed by new variants to Ontario’s pandemic response. 

Local medical officers of health continue to have the ability to issue Section 22 orders under the Health Protection and Promotion Act. Municipalities may enact bylaws to target specific transmission risks in communities. 

This article may have been created with the use of AI software such as Google Docs, Grammarly, and/or Otter.ai for transcription.

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