ontario lockdown

Toronto and Peel lockdowns officially extended into the new year

It's official: Toronto will ring in the new year under lockdown.

Toronto and Peel will remain in the Grey-Lockdown level until Jan. 4, the province announced Friday afternoon. Hamilton is also moving into Grey-Lockdown.

"With public health indicators continuing to worsen in Toronto and Peel, we are making the difficult but necessary decision to extend public health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, protect our hospital capacity and safeguard the key services we rely on," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, when announcing the news.

The lockdown measures will be re-assessed in the new year.

The move doesn't come as a huge surprise, as Ontario Premier Doug Ford had said earlier today that the city would not be coming out of grey zone restrictions after its initial 28-day-long lockdown period expires on Monday.

Although the first COVID-19 vaccines came to Canada this week, it will be a long time before they can reach enough people to get the virus under control.

"With the first vaccines administered to our frontline health care workers this week, the light at the end of the tunnel grows brighter every day," Elliot said on Friday. "However now more than ever we are urging everyone to continue following public health measures and advice, especially over the holiday season."

In the nearly four weeks since Peel and Toronto were put into the Grey-Lockdown zone, COVID-19 cases have steadily continued to rise.

Peel saw its case rate increase by 8.6 per cent to 199.1 cases per 100,000 people, while Toronto saw an increase from 37.5 per cent to 127.5 cases per 100,000 people. Hospitalizations have risen by 54 per cent in Peel and by 40.9 per cent in Toronto since the lockdown came into effect, resulting in delays for surgeries and other procedures at several hospitals.

In Hamilton, the number of cases and hospitalizations are trending upwards as well. The case rate there increased by 25.8 per cent, to 103.3 cases per 100,000 people and the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the region have more than doubled in the last two weeks.

Lockdown measures such as shutting restaurants and gyms don't appear to be working: Ontario reported a whopping 2,290 new infections on Friday morning (well over half in the GTA) after posting a new daily record high of 2,432 cases on Thursday.

We'll learn more on Monday about which additional restrictions we can expect to see during the next lockdown period, according to Premier Doug Ford.

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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