The extension of the stay-at-home order in North Bay-Parry Sound appeared to have caused some division within the region as some officials support the move while others are opposed.

The province announced on Friday that Toronto, Peel Region, and North Bay-Parry Sound will not be rejoining the colour-coded reopening framework and remain shut down until March 8.

Despite having low case numbers, concerns over a variant of concern (VOC) linked to an outbreak at an apartment building in North Bay prompted the province to delay the reopening in that area in northern Ontario.

According to the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit, 38 people have tested positive for COVID-19 at an outbreak at the Skyline-Lancelot Apartments. Of those cases, 20 have tested positive for a coronavirus variant, including one confirmed to be the B.1.351 variant that originated in South Africa.

Speaking to CP24 Saturday morning, the mayor of North Bay said he supports Dr. Jim Chirico, the region's medical officer of health and the decision to extend the stay-at-home order.

"He's trying to stamp down the spread of the variant, and I support his steps and his recommendations. "If we allow this variant to spread, it can be devastating to our community as it would all other communities. So, it is the right steps to take to make sure that we control the VOC."

With that said, McDonald admitted that many residents and local businesses are disappointed as many wanted to get life back to normal.

"We're really concerned about our local businesses, and we're trying to do everything we can for them. It really is a hardship. We do have businesses doing very well, but we have some businesses that are completely shut down. And we have some very limited, open," the mayor said.

"This was a setback. And there's no question our caseload is really really low. But we're trying to explain it's the VOC. That's the concern, and that's why we need to stay locked down."

While McDonald agrees with the extension, the mayor of Parry Sound is not happy about the move.

In an interview with CP24 Saturday afternoon, Mayor Jamie McGarvey said that he is shocked with the decision, saying that he hoped the region would be moved back into the red-control category.

The mayor noted that the extension does not make sense, given that there are only five active cases in the Parry Sound District. According to data from the health unit, there are two cases of a variant of concern in the district.

"The issue seems to be in North Bay, which is an hour and a half from Parry Sound, and on a different corridor of traffic compared to this side of the district," McGarvey said.

"Businesses are hurting. We'd like to get back open. People are quite willing to put in the proper protocol to make sure that customers are safe and that sort of thing."

Before the Ontario government put the province in lockdown, the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit was in the least-restrictive green-prevent zone.

The mayor said they have asked to split the health unit into areas so that some can reopen and move forward, but "they're not willing to divide it up."

"I will say that, yeah, they need to deal with those cases in North Bay. It is different over here in west Parry Sound, with the number of cases that that we've had," McGarvey said.

"Everybody's wondering why we're still in lockdown over here. But it's because we get lumped in with the overall health unit area."