toronto red zone

John Tory says he wants Toronto to enter the red zone as soon as possible

Toronto has now been in the grey zone of Ontario's updated COVID-19 response framework for... what, four days? Not even, actually, but we're already sick of the restrictions.

While many were thrilled when stay-at-home orders were lifted on Monday at 12:01 a.m., moving us from "provincewide shutdown" to "grey-zone lockdown," it's become glaringly apparent that little has changed.

Outdoor gathering limits have been raised from five to ten people, sure, and we can now enter non-essential retail stores at 25 per cent capacity, but what the people really want is to get their hair done. Hang out at restaurants. Hit the gym. 

All of this will be made possible when Toronto graduates from grey to the slightly more permissive red-restrict zone, albeit with many conditions in place.

As for when that'll happen, nobody can say for sure — the very earliest date to transition would be Monday, March 22, based on the province's current guidelines — but the mayor of Canada's largest city says he'll do whatever he can to get us out of the grey ASAP.

Toronto Mayor John Tory appeared on Breakfast Television Thursday morning to discuss the city's vaccine rollout plan and his own experiences dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 12 months.

When asked if he anticipated we’d be staying in the grey zone for some time, Tory told the morning show that he didn't want that to happen.

"I don't think it's going to change tomorrow, but my objective is to change it to red as quickly as possible," he said.

"Wth red you get some additional businesses reopening, subject to conditions, like the restaurants and the bars and some of the personal service businesses... and so I would like to move us to that as soon as we can."

Tory said it all depends on four factors:

  • The health situation
  • The psychology of the public ("because if they're not following the health regulations or whatever, then you're not really achieving any purpose.")
  • The regional situation ("Obviously Toronto's not an island," said Tory. "We're part of a region of many millions of people.")
  • The business situation ("I think you have to take that into account, the toll that's being taken," said the mayor of COVID's economic impacts.

"We're having these discussions virtually every day, I'm talking to the province about it, as well as to our own medical people here," said Tory to BT on Thurdsay.

"I hope we can move to a change as soon as possible… that's all I can say, and I hope that's much sooner than later."

If you're thinking "well, no duh," keep in mind that this does mark a shift in the way Tory has been answering these types of questions in recent months.

It was only a few weeks, after all, that the mayor threw his full support behind Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa in her (successful) request that Ontario extend the full shutdown in Toronto for two weeks longer than originally planned.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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