The Ford government says it’s moving Toronto and Peel Region into lockdown and under the ‘Grey Zone‘ in relation to the province’s COVID-19 colour-coded framework.
Joined by premier Doug Ford, Ontario’s Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, announced several new restrictions that will come into effect on Monday, Nov. 23, including the closure of all retail establishments except for essential services such as grocery stores, supermarkets, pharmacies and hardware stores.
The government said that non-essential retail stores will be limited to curbside pickup only.
Gyms and fitness centres, along with barber shops and salons, will all close as of 12:01 a.m. on Monday.
“We cannot afford a province-wide lockdown, so we are taking preventative action today by moving Toronto and Peel into Lockdown level restrictions and other regions into higher levels of restrictions,” Ford said at Queen’s Park on Friday.
“We need to take decisive action to stop the spread of this deadly virus.”
Indoor organized and public events are not allowed, except for members of the same household. Indoor and outdoor dining is now prohibited, with virtual and drive-in gatherings allowed.
These lockdown measures will be in place for at least 28 days, government officials said.
What else is closed as of Monday:
- Wedding services, funeral services and religious services, rites or ceremonies where physical distancing can be maintained can have up to 10 people indoors or 10 people outdoors;
- Retail permitted to be open for curbside pick-up or delivery only, with certain exceptions such as for supermarkets, grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, discount and big box retailers selling groceries, beer, wine and liquor stores, safety supply stores, and convenience stores, which will be allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity;
- Restaurants, bars, and food and drink establishments will only be able to provide takeout, drive-through and delivery. Indoor and outdoor dining services are prohibited;
- Personal care services closed;
- Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments closed;
- Indoor sports and recreational facilities, including pools, closed with limited exceptions.
The province currently defines its ‘Grey Zone – Lockdown‘ tier as “implement widescale measures and restrictions, including closures, to halt or interrupt transmission (return to modified Stage 1 or pre-Stage 1).”
“As we have seen around the world, lockdowns are a difficult but necessary step to stop the spread, safeguard the key services we rely on and protect our health system capacity,” Ontario’s minister of health said.
“With the recent positive news on the development of a vaccine, there is a real hope that we can defeat this deadly virus, but for now we all must continue to follow public health advice and strictly adhere to the restrictions in place.”
As part of the announcement, the Ford government said it is providing $600 million in relief to support eligible businesses required to close or significantly restrict services due to the enhanced public health measures.
For weeks, Toronto and Peel have reported high increases in daily COVID-19 numbers as many neighbourhoods continue to see a spike in concerning positivity percentage rates.
Toronto (purple) and Peel (pink) – COVID-19 daily case count per 100,000
Cases per 100,000 is calculated by dividing the number of cases by the population, and then multiplying by 100,000.
On Friday, Peel Region reported 400 new COVID-19 cases with well over 200 of them coming from Brampton.
Courtesy of data provided by Peel Public Health, it shows that specific neighbourhoods in Brampton continue to deal with high rates of COVID-19 positivity rate and transmission – specifically near Wildfield, Tullamore and Castlemore.
Prior to Friday’s announcement, both regions were under Ontario’s ‘Red Control‘ tier. Toronto and Peel’s medical officers of health – Dr. Eileen de Villa and Lawrence Loh – later modified its health and safety measures, enforcing strict restrictions of their own.
The Ford government also announced that Durham and Waterloo will be moved to the province’s ‘Red-Control‘ zone, joining York Region, Halton and Hamilton. Windsor-Essex, Huron and Simcoe have now been placed under the ‘Orange-Restrict‘ zone.
Of the province’s new 1,418 COVID-19 cases on Friday, 168 of them were out of York Region – third highest behind Toronto and Peel.
The government’s decision comes after the number of COVID-19 patients in the ICU crossed the 150 capacity on Thursday. This led to health officials and members of Ontario’s Medical Association urging action on the Ford government’s part, saying it will become more difficult to go through with elective surgeries and other medical procedures.