Ford says Toronto and other hot spots could remain under lockdown after next week
With 27 of the province's regions transitioning out of both the shutdown and stay-at-home order and into Ontario's updated COVID-19 framework today, many are wondering what will happen to the final four regions come next week.
Toronto Public Health, Peel Public Health, York Region Public Health and North Bay Parry Sound District are all set to remain under the shutdown until at least Feb. 22, at which point COVID-19 indicators will be reevaluated and decisions will be made about which level of the framework each region will enter.
Acording to a Breakfast Television interview with Premier Doug Ford Tuesday morning, three of these four regions could enter the grey zone of the framework next week — meaning they would continue to be subject to lockdown restrictions for the foreseeable future.
Ontario is reporting 904 cases of #COVID19 today and 964 cases reported yesterday. Today, there are 320 new cases in Toronto, 154 in Peel and 118 in York Region.— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) February 16, 2021
Over 27,000 tests were completed on February 15th and nearly 30,400 tests on February 14th.
"I wouldn't call it reopening, I'd call it transitioning and again Toronto, Peel and York are going to continue with the lockdown until February 22," he said.
"We're going to be consulting with the chief medical and the local medical officers of the three regions to determine if they want to continue moving forward and if they don't, they're still going to be in the Grey-Lockdown so we're taking this very cautiously, very slowly and we're going to continue making sure we're cautious."
In the grey zone, most traditional lockdown restrictions apply with the exception of an amendment the province has made to allow for in-person retail shopping with strict capacity limits.
Currently, only Niagara Region Public Health is in the grey zone, with all other regions facing slightly more relaxed measures in the red, orange, yellow and green zones.
Schools in Toronto, Peel and York meanwhile reopened their doors for in-person learning today, and experts have been warning that reopening the economy at the same time as schools could result in a deadly third wave as a result of the circulation of new COVID-19 variants of concern.
In the interview, Ford said that while he is concerned about a third wave, he'll continue to consult with Ontario's health experts and take their advice.
The province has also introduced a new "emergency brake" to allow the chief medical officer of health, in consultation with the local medical officer of health, to immediately advise moving a region into Grey-Lockdown to interrupt transmission.
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