Ontario’s government has announced York Region and Windsor-Essex will enter the province’s ‘Grey-Lockdown‘ measures effective Monday, Dec. 14.
Toronto and Peel Region are currently under lockdown until at least Dec. 21.
“Moving a region into Grey-Lockdown is not an easy decision, but it is one we needed to make in order to help stop the spread of the virus and safeguard the key services we rely on,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.
“As we enter the holiday season and as the province prepares to receive its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines, it remains crucial for all Ontarians to continue adhering to public health advice and workplace safety measures to reduce the spread of the virus and keep each other safe.”
The province also announced Middlesex-London Health Unit, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health will be moved to the province’s ‘Red-Control‘ zone.
Public health units will stay in their level for a minimum of 28 days or two COVID-19 incubation periods.
The decision to move York Region to lockdown has been debated for weeks. On Thursday, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams hinted towards new restrictions for some regions as case counts continue to rise across the province.
Williams said both districts were headed “in the wrong direction”.
“Over the last week, public health indicators in the York and Windsor regions have continued to trend in the wrong direction and it is evident additional measures are needed to help limit the spread of the virus,” Williams said on Friday.
“By making this difficult but necessary decision we can help to ensure that hospitals in these regions can work to provide patients with the care they need when they need it, including the performing of scheduled surgeries and other important procedures.”
Lockdown measures include no indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household, and a limit for outdoor organized public events and social gatherings of 10 people.
Indoor and outdoor dining is also prohibited while retail is open for curbside pick-up or delivery only, with few exceptions.
- Supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, hardware stores, other retailers selling groceries, beer and wine and liquor stores, pharmacies, safety supply stores, and pet supply stores permitted to be open for in-person shopping
- 50% capacity limits where in-person shopping is permitted
- Outdoor markets, including farmer’s markets and holiday markets, permitted with restrictions
- Retail outlets in malls permitted to be open for pick-up or delivery (in-person retail shopping not permitted)
- Access to shopping malls for limited purposes, including access to businesses and organizations, permitted to be open (for example, pharmacy, dentist); food court open for takeaway; malls may also establish designated pick-up points inside or adjacent to the mall
Last week the Ford government ultimately decided to keep York Region in its ‘Red-Control‘ zone, one day after the jurisdiction’s medical officer said more time was needed before shifting York to lockdown.
“Yesterday’s [Thursday] modeling update, and today’s changes to the regional alert levels – they’re a reminder that we have to stay vigilant,” the premier said.
Mayors in Vaughan and Markham were among the municipal leaders in the region asking the province for one more week in the ‘Red-Control’ zone to bend the curve.
Frank Scarpitti says that he respects the province’s decision but wanted it done differently.
“I had presented another alternative to a lockdown and I will say this, I will continue to pursue fairer options for businesses in Markham and in the region of York,” Scarpitti told 680 NEWS.
“I just have to say, my experience when I have been out in the community, is smaller retailers and restaurants are definitely been doing their part… it seems somewhat unfair that certain retailers will continue to operate and others now will have to go to curbside.”
According to the province’s latest weekly epidemiology report, York Region reported 1,326 new COVID-19 cases from Nov. 29 to Dec. 5 – up from the previous week, in which the region saw 1,121 cases.
The rate per 100,000 population in York also went up from 91.5 percent to 108.2 percent – third highest behind Toronto and Peel.
On Tuesday, York Region’s major hospitals warned they have reached “a tipping point” in their ability to cope with COVID-19.
The heads of Mackenzie Health, Markham Stouffville, and Southlake Regional Health Centre said a rapidly rising number of coronavirus patients over the last week has pushed their hospitals to the brink of a capacity crisis.
While Windsor-Essex has reported a much smaller number of cases compared to other hotspots, there was an increase in rate positivity per 100,000 population from 78.1 percent to 93.9 percent.
On Thursday, public health officials in Windsor ordered all schools to close due to the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases in the area.
Students will transition to online learning starting on Monday.
Ontario released its latest round of COVID-19 projections on Thursday. The modelling shows cases will total roughly 2,500 a day by early Jan. with 1 percent growth and anywhere from 4,000 to 5,000 cases a day under a 4 percent growth rate.