Ontario Premier Doug Ford says Toronto will be the only region to remain in a “modified Stage 2” for an additional week after he announced a new classification system for local public health units.
In a document released Tuesday, “COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open,” the government outlines its priorities and principles for the province as it deals with the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
All 34 local public health units were categorized into five different levels: Prevent (standard measures — green), protect (strengthened measures — yellow), restrict (intermediate measures — orange), control (stringent measures — red), and lockdown (maximum measures — grey).
Ford said Peel Region, York Region and Ottawa will move into the “Restrict” category, illustrated as orange, on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 12:01 a.m.
He added that at the request of Toronto’s mayor John Tory and chief medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa who have asked for “a little more time,” Toronto will have to wait another week to enter into the new system and will move into the “Restrict” category on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 12:01 a.m.
“Thanks to the revised framework, we can start to transition regions away from modified Stage 2 restrictions which were always intended as short-term measures,” Ford said at his daily press briefing on Tuesday.
“We will stay on top of the trends to determine where regions stand,” Ford said referring to the new classification system.
The new and more targeted COVID-19 category system will allow some businesses that were previously mandated to close to remain open while under very strict measures.
Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa — and later York Region — have seen the highest case counts during the second wave and were all placed in a “modified Stage 2” shutdown for at least 28 days.
Toronto will see indoor dining, gyms and fitness centres, casinos, cinemas, and performing arts centres closed for an additional week.
“It’s clear COVID-19 will be with us for a while, which is why we are putting in place a framework that will protect the health and safety of individuals and families, while avoiding broader closures across the province,” Ford said.
“This framework, developed in consultation with our health experts, will serve as an early warning system allowing us to scale up and scale back public health restrictions on a regional or community basis in response to surges and waves of COVID-19. By introducing public health measures sooner, we can keep this deadly virus at bay, bend the curve and reclaim a little more of our normal lives,” he said.
For a complete guide to Ontario’s new COVID-19 classification system, click here.
— With files from Global News’ Jessica Patton.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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