toronto stage 2

People in Toronto are already planning day trips to get haircuts and drink on patios

As Torontonians come to terms with the fact that they'll have to wait at least another week until more things in the city reopen, some residents are considering simply taking a quick trip to indulge in some long-awaited patio drinks or a haircut out in the regions where such services are already allowed.

Ontario towns in York, Durham, Halton, Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand-Norfork and Sarnia Lambton-Kent regions were just given the green light to enter Stage 2 this coming Friday, leaving those of us living in Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex hanging.

But, with York Region towns like Markham and Vaughan only a 30 minute-or-so drive away, some Toronto dwellers are making plans to get out of the confines of the city this weekend.

"Short drive to all the East Side Marios, Dave & Buster's, Boston Pizzas, & Montanas patios we can eat and drink on," one Twitter user said in response to the news. "Bringing my tainted Toronto ass up there. See you on the weekend."

"My region is finally opening bars on Friday!!!! I can hardly wait," another wrote. "I suspect I'll have some Toronto guests over the weekend lol."

"I live 5 min from Chatham-Kent. They can open. We can't," yet another tweeted, pointing out how silly a regional approach to reopening can seem when neighbouring areas are in different stages.

Some are citing how harmful the staggered reopening will be for businesses in the three regions still excluded from Stage 2 for the second week in a row, while others are demanding that funding programs like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit be extended for those whose workplaces still aren't opening due to the regional restrictions.

And, a few have noted that along with the individuals who will surely choose to drive to other regions to reap the benefits of Stage 2, there are also residents who live in the city and work elsewhere — meaning that the virus could easily be carried to and fro, rendering the regional plan somewhat futile if there are no travel restrictions.

Though Premier Doug Ford made his decision based on public health unit case numbers and the advice of his health team, including Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams, it's safe to say that people aren't exactly happy about the announcement.

But the numbers don't lie, and Toronto has had the bulk of the province's cases: 12,206 of the total 32,370, for a rate of 391.2 per 100,000 residents, according to Ontario's latest epidemiologic summary.

This is compared to Peel's 5,251 (327 per 100,000) and Windsor-Essex's 1,189 (279.9 per 100,000), as well as 14 public health units that have seen fewer than 100 cases total thus far.

Somewhere like York, one of the seven regions that just received the go ahead to open later this week, has had 2,747 cases during the health crisis (224.1 per 100,000). Hamilton has had 759 (128.2 per 100,000).

Though the number of cases and the rate of infection has been higher in Toronto than any other region in Ontario, having slightly more than 12,000 cases (the vast majority of them resolved) among a massive population of over 13 million people seems, to some, like far too few to justify keeping so many things shuttered at this point — especially in light of the financial strain caused by months of closures.

Ford is expected to make an announcement next week about whether Toronto, Peel and/or Windsor-Essex will be moving into the next phase of reopening by June 26, but until then, it seems that other parts of the GTA may be seeing more faces from the 6ix in their area codes.

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