Coronavirus: Toronto officials recommend city move into grey-lockdown level next week

Toronto officials are recommending that the city enter the grey-lockdown level of the province’s coronavirus response framework next week, which would see the loosening of some restrictions.

“Overall, case counts at present call for a cautious approach that will allow us to reopen and to do so as safely as possible,” Toronto medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa said.

“Based on the data in front of us, it is clear that reopening widely, such as under the red category of the provincial framework, is not advisable at this time given our current case counts.”

Read more: Peel Region’s top doctor recommending moving to grey lockdown in Ontario’s COVID-19 framework

Toronto, along with neighbouring Peel Region and North Bay have remained under extended shutdown regulations and a stay-at-home order due to high COVID-19 case counts or variant outbreaks while other areas of Ontario have reopened under the province’s framework.

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The Ontario government is expected to announce on Friday when and if Peel Region, Toronto and North Bay will move into the colour-coded system.

The shutdown is set to remain in place until at least Monday.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Thunder Bay, Simcoe-Muskoka move back into lockdown' Coronavirus: Thunder Bay, Simcoe-Muskoka move back into lockdown

Coronavirus: Thunder Bay, Simcoe-Muskoka move back into lockdown

Peel Region’s medical officer of health has also recommended for his area to enter the grey-lockdown category.

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“Unfortunately, we are seeing a reversal of the favourable trends that we’ve observed in the last five weeks,” Dr. Lawrence Loh said.

“This is driven by the growth of variants of concern and the loosening of measures in other jurisdictions.”

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On Feb. 24, Mayor Bonnie Crombie advocated for her city to move into the red-control level.

De Villa has also expressed concern about variants in Toronto and said Wednesday that 1,468 COVID-19 cases have screened positive for variants of concern, up from 1,179 on Monday.

If Toronto and Peel Region do move into the grey-lockdown category, it will allow for the reopening of some businesses with restrictions, including in-person retail shops.

Read more: COVID-19 vaccine portal to have ‘soft launch’ in 6 Ontario regions this week: source

Other restrictions remain in place, however, including the closure of in-person dining at restaurants and bars, as well as personal care services and most fitness facilities. Indoor social gatherings remain limited to members of the same household.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said moving to the grey zone will allow the city to begin to reopen “with caution” and stay open as vaccines continue to be administered.

De Villa also announced on Wednesday that she had issued an order requiring enhanced health and safety measures in workplaces experiencing an active COVID-19 outbreak.

Click to play video 'Peel Region’s top doctor recommending grey-lockdown zone in Ontario’s COVID-19 framework' Peel Region’s top doctor recommending grey-lockdown zone in Ontario’s COVID-19 framework

Peel Region’s top doctor recommending grey-lockdown zone in Ontario’s COVID-19 framework

— With files from Gabby Rodrigues

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