grey lockdown brampton

Peel's top health official wants Brampton and Mississauga to go into grey zone lockdown

The top health official for Peel Region is formally asking that its cities, including Brampton and Mississauga, enter the prohibitive grey zone when they progress out of the full provincial shutdown and stay-at-home order, which is expected to happen next week.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh said in a briefing on Wednesday that he will recommend that Premier Doug Ford and his team keep the region in the most stringent level of Ontario's reopening framework, rather than allow it to enter directly from full shutdown into the red zone, as regions like Hamilton, Durham and York did.

In the red zone, businesses such as bars, restaurants, gyms and more — which have been shuttered in Toronto and Peel since November — are permitted to open once more with substantially reduced capacity limits and other measures in place.

The grey zone, however, is only marginally more open than the blanket shutdown the province implemented on Dec. 26 and that Toronto, Peel, and North Bay Parry Sound are still under: indoor gatherings are still banned, eateries cannot operate beyond offering takeout and delivery, while gyms and other "non-essential" businesses must remain closed.

The only real difference is the fact that in grey, the formal stay-at-home order no longer applies and all retail stores in can open at 25 per cent capacity (50 per cent for grocery stores and other "essential" outlets), a new caveat added to grey in February.

Loh's stance on the matter comes despite the fact that both Mississuaga Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown have expressed a desire for current restrictions to be loosened for better quality of life, with Crombie directly requesting that her city be put into the red zone rather than grey on March 9.

Like Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, Loh is concerned about the rise in new variants in the region — which have not proven to be any more severe — and worries about reopening too quickly. 

"The U.K. saw a third wave when they reopened with variants in their midst and nobody, myself included, wants to see that," he said. "That is why I encourage us strongly to reopen gradually."

He also noted the fact that Thunder Bay and Simcoe Muskoka have already had to shutter again due to outbreaks and rising case counts soon after reopening into red.

Though Ford has generally heeded the advice of regional and provincial medical officers of health — who are not elected officials — York Region was put into the red zone on Feb. 22 rather than grey after its Council requested it.

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