As Toronto and Peel Region rapidly approach the end of their 28-day lockdown, Premier Doug Ford said he’s considering every option ahead of Monday.
The Premier is set to meet with his cabinet and Ontario hospital leaders on Friday to discuss further steps to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
Toronto and Peel leaders have remained steadfast in their message that lockdown restrictions should be extended through the holidays and even expanded to neighbouring regions.
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said Wednesday that a lockdown needs to be implemented across the GTA.
Echoing these sentiments, Toronto Mayor Tory says that he and leaders from neighbouring regions in the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area (GTHA) are discussing using the winter holidays to “lockdown even further.”
In a joint statement released on Thursday, municipal leaders from Halton Region said that any reports suggesting they had been consulted or are in favour of a GTHA-wide lockdown are inaccurate.
“We, the locally elected heads of council of Halton Region, Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton, and Oakville are not in support of a GTHA-wide lockdown. We were not consulted nor were any of us a party to any discussions on the topic.”
The statement goes on to say that officials in the region are continuing to follow the direction of their own medical officer of health and they encourage other municipal leaders to concern themselves with their own regions.
Speaking on Thursday, Ford wouldn’t confirm whether or not ‘Grey-Lockdown‘ measures will be extended in Toronto and Peel Region, but did say that every option is on the table.
“If we move forward and decide to do a further lockdown, there is a lot of things to take into consideration,” the Premier said. “We have to make sure we have something for businesses. We can’t keep going on like this for the business owners… we have to make sure [about] the health care system, the capacity.”
Ford also suggested that, while a decision has yet to be made, his government is considering just how long restrictions need to be in place in certain jurisdictions and hot spot areas.
“The worst thing we could do is rush out there and make a snap decision in a heartbeat,” the Premier continued. “We have to do make sure that, if we do make this decision, is it going to be two weeks, three weeks, or 28 days.”
“I won’t hesitate to do whatever it takes to slow down this trend that we see,” Ford assured.
Toronto and Peel Region entered lockdown on Nov. 23, and with it set to expire on Monday, health and government officials are sounding the alarm, urging Ford to not only consider extending lockdown measures but adding stiffer restrictions on top of it.
On Wednesday, the same day Toronto reported 850 cases of COVID-19, Mayor John Tory pushed for a decision, saying “I think anything we do should be done with some notice ahead of the planned expiry of the 28-day lockdown that we’re presently experiencing.”
From January 25 to October 20, Toronto reached 25,000 cases of COVID-19 with Toronto Public Health affirming it has taken approximately eight weeks to double the number of cases to more than 50,000.
When asked if Ford’s government would consider a curfew, the premier said they were not, only adding that he will sit down with the health table for further discussion.
“If we all just stop socializing and having friends and family over. We’re doing everything we can to make sure this trend… we’re throwing everything we can at it,” the Premier added.
With Ontario’s Hospital Association calling for a province-wide lockdown, Ford said he appreciates their input and acknowledged the severity of what Ontario is currently dealing with.
“It’s very, very concerning the situation we’re facing right now,” he said. “We’re going to continue consulting with the CEOs of hospitals. Right now, everything is on the table. We always take the advice from medical experts.”
York Region and Windsor-Essex entered the province’s ‘Grey-Lockdown‘ measures on December 14. Public health units will stay in their level for a minimum of 28 days or two COVID-19 incubation periods.
Ontario is reporting a record 2,432 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, with 737 new cases in Toronto, 434 in Peel, 209 in York Region, 190 in Windsor-Essex County, and 142 in Hamilton.
This is the second day this week the province has broken its record of daily cases and the third day since the start of the pandemic, and the third day in a row, with over 2,000 new cases.