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Ford government lowers COVID-19 threshold; adds York, Halton and Hamilton to 'Red Zone'

Last Updated Nov 13, 2020 at 4:30 pm EST

Ontario Premier Doug Ford makes an announcement with Health Minister Christine Elliott during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Thursday, September 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Ontario’s Ford government has announced sweeping modifications to its COVID-19 colour-coded framework and thresholds, adding several regions – including York, Halton and Hamilton – to its ‘Red Zone‘.

These three regions will now join Toronto and Peel in the ‘Red Zone (Control – Stringent Measures)’.

Joined by Ontario’s top doctor, David Williams, a somber Doug Ford confirmed that, moving forward, certain thresholds will be altered and jurisdictions will be put under different zones once a specific region reaches a positivity rate of 40 cases per 100,000.

“Our number one priority right now is getting the numbers down and keeping people safe. That’s why, on the recommendation of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, we’re updating the framework with new thresholds so we can slow the spread of this virus,” premier Ford said.

“We’re here today to take action. We’re here today to protect the health of Ontarians. The updated modelling yesterday [Thursday] made it clear, the situation has changed dramatically.”

The Ford government has faced backlash from the public and various health agencies for its framework. Just recently, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) strongly criticized the approach, saying it does not go far enough to protect the people of Ontario.

“We are doing what is necessary to continue to fight COVID-19,” Minister of Health Christine Elliott said.

Under the ‘Red Zone’, restaurants and bars across York, Halton and Hamilton will now face lower capacity and stricter restrictions unless modified by local health officials.

York reported a considerable increase in COVID-19 cases on Friday, with health officials confirming 155 new infections of the virus.

Updated COVID-19 framework regions:

 

Red-Control:

  • Hamilton Public Health Services
  • Halton Region Public Health
  • Toronto Public Health
  • York Region Public Health

 

Orange-Restrict:

  • Brant County Health Unit
  • Durham Region Health Department
  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit
  • Niagara Region Public Health
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health
  • Region of Waterloo Public Health

 

Yellow-Protect:

  • Huron Perth Public Health
  • Middlesex-London Health Unit
  • Public Health Sudbury & Districts
  • Southwestern Public Health
  • Huron Perth Public Health
  • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit

 

 

Durham Region, previously in the ‘Yellow Zone‘, will now move to the ‘Orange-Restrict Zone‘ on Monday, Nov. 16.

Toronto’s top doctor, Eileen de Villa, recently announced that, despite being categorized in the province’s Red Zone, indoor dining would remain prohibited and indoor fitness and exercise classes would remain closed until at least Dec. 12.

Toronto will be under Red Zone restrictions as of Saturday.

RELATED: Brampton continues troubling trajectory as Peel Region confirms over 400 new cases 

Peel Region – another COVID-19 hotspot – moved to the ‘Red Zone’ category last week. Like de Villa, Peel’s medical officer of health, Dr. Lawrence Loh, announced the region would modify the province’s restrictions. These include bars, restaurants and other food establishments restricting seating to people from the same household with no mixed seating allowed.

The changes come after Ontario health experts released daunting data and modelling that projected the province could see as many as 6,000 COVID-19 cases a day by mid-Dec.

“The modelling that I see now is not the modelling that I saw nine days ago,” Ford said.

“9 days, 10 days ago what I saw was anywhere from 950 to 1,200 cases. I can assure you that if I saw 6,500 cases 10 days ago, I wouldn’t be out here today saying what we are saying.”

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