toronto grey zone

Toronto will officially enter the grey zone of Ontario's framework on Monday

It's official, folks: Toronto will enter the grey-lockdown zone of Ontario's colour-coded COVID-19 response framework this coming Monday, bringing about little change in the way we live our daily lives — with some notable exceptions.

The provincial government confirmed the news early Friday afternoon, writing in a release that "all decisions were made in consultation with the local medical officers of health and are based on the latest trends in public health indicators and local context and conditions."

Peel and North Bay Parry Sound will also enter the provincial government's framework system on Monday: Peel at the grey zone level and North Bay Parry Sound at red.

Along with Toronto, Peel and North Bay Parry Sound are the only public health regions still under the provincewide shutdown restrictions that came into effect on December 26.

They are also the only parts of Ontario in which residents remain under stay-at-home orders, which were issued when Ford declared a second state of emergency over COVID-19 in mid January.

That emergency order expired on February 9, and the government has been lifting stay-at-home orders on a region-by-region basis ever since.

As of Monday, March 8, at 12:01 a.m., all of Ontario will finally have left shutdown mode and stay-at-home orders will be non-existent anywhere (at least for now.)

Unfortunately for Toronto, things won't change a whole lot on Monday: Restaurants, bars, clubs, gyms, personal services, cinemas and other attractions will stay closed, as they have been since we were first put into the grey-zone back in November.

Still, the reopening of all retail stores (even with strict capacity limits) marks a turning point for a city where most small businesses have now been closed for more than 100 days.

Business owners have argued that Toronto and Peel should enter the red-restrict zone when it leaves shutdown mode next week, but Medical Officers of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and Lawrence Loh have urged the government otherwise due to highly-contagious new variants of the coronavirus.

The Ontario government agreed to extend the full shutdown for Toronto, Peel and North Bay for two more weeks on February 19 in an effort to lessen the impact of an expected third wave, but things can only stay closed for so long.

Loh and de Villa's grace period will finally expire on Monday with the loosening of the above-mentioned restrictions, however modest they may be, bringing hope to Torontonians who feel cooped up and blue after more than three months of living in lockdown.

Lead photo by

Gary Davidson

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