The mayors of Oshawa and Pickering say moving the cities into a modified Stage 2 will negatively impact small businesses that are already trying to get by amid a second wave of the novel coronavirus.
On Friday, Premier Doug Ford said his government is thinking about moving certain regions, particularly Halton and Durham, back into Stage 2 as COVID-19 cases are on an upward trend across the province.
But officials in those regions argue that here are already effective measures in place and local businesses might not survive stricter regulations.
“We’re very much concerned for our local business and the people that are employed there as well but we understand that there’s a broader issue here for the community as a whole that has to be addressed,” Pickering Mayor David Ryan tells CP24.
Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter says Ford needs to follow the data to ensure it’s necessary to move the regions into Stage 2.
“He’s [Ford] done a tremendous job in regards to following the regulations of our healthcare experts,” Carter tells CP24. “I’m hoping the premier and those decision makers take that into consideration.”
Ontario reached a grim milestone on Sunday logging 1,042 new COVID-19 cases and seven additional deaths, the first time ever surpassing 1,000 cases since the pandemic began in March.
Last month, provincial officials released modelling data that forecasted the province could top 1,000 cases by mid-October if no new regulations were enforced.
But with cases rising particularly in the GTA since September, the Ford government decided to revert Toronto, Peel and Ottawa to a modified Stage 2 on Oct. 10.
The government ordered indoor dining, gyms and movie theatres to shut down for at least 28 days in those regions.
A week later, Ford announced that York Region would follow suit, ordering the region to go back to Stage 2 on Oct. 19.
Now Halton and Durham are the only two regions in the GTA that are still in Stage 3 of the province’s reopening framework but that might not be for long.
On Sunday, Durham logged 52 new cases, relatively unchanged from 51 on Saturday and Halton recorded 31 new infections, up from 21 a day ago.
Over the last week, Halton Region has reported an average of 30 new cases a day while Durham has reported an average of 33 new cases a day.
On Saturday, a group of officials from Halton Region issued a letter to Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams asking him to target certain high-risk activities and locations rather than impose blanket restrictions.
Both Carter and Ryan agree that most businesses in their cities are abiding by the health and safety measures to curb the spread of the virus and should not have more restrictions imposed on them.
“They’ve done an extraordinary job, business has done a good job in making sure that customers, staff and visitors are safe so that we’re safe,” Carter says.
“I’ve been very pleased with the response we have had from our local businesses. People have been very responsible. Businesses themselves, certainly have. Generally, I’m seeing our community engaged,” Ryan says.
Speaking to CP24 on Sunday afternoon, epidemiologist Dr. Abdu Sharkawy says he would not be surprised if regions that are approaching hot spot status like Halton were moved back into a modified stage 2.
“I think that that needs to be done,” Sharkawy says. “And we have to closely monitor the situation across Ontario, and not wait too late before imposing restrictions that get things under control.”