Halton officials push back against potential modified Stage 2 restrictions
Published Saturday, October 24, 2020 1:32PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, October 24, 2020 1:40PM EDT
A group of politicians from Halton are pushing back against the potential for the region to move to a modified Stage 2, saying that businesses could not survive another shutdown.
A letter signed by municipal and provincial leaders with ties to the region asked Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams to target certain high-risk activities and locations rather than impose blanket restrictions.
Halton is one of only two parts of the Greater Toronto Area that remain in Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan.
Premier Doug Ford said he hopes to have an answer by Monday about whether Halton must revert to a modified Stage 2, which forces indoor dining, gyms and movie theatres to close.
MPPs Parm Gill (Milton), Jane McKenna (Burlington), Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr, Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Milton Mayor Gordon Krantz all signed the letter, which was sent to Williams on Saturday.
"Our rate of infection is declining (well below the provincial average), and we have significant hospital capacity," the joint letter reads. "Instead of imposing blanket measures, Halton residents are asking that we target activities and locations that pose the highest risk of transmission, including limiting non-essential travel outside of identified hotspots."
"This is why we are also calling on you to clearly define the criteria used to determine when further restrictions or rollbacks are required, as well as the criteria that must be met for lifting any restrictions or rollbacks."
Despite Ontario reporting a record number of new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, Halton logged only 21 new infections.
The letter also said that Halton's positivity rate has not hit the high-alert level of 2.5 per cent.
"Without providing specific justification for implementing new restrictions, there is legitimate concern that people will start to ignore public health advice," the letter also said.
Speaking to CP24 on Saturday, Ward said that Burlington has "ample" hospital capacity and that any shutdowns should be targeted.
"Our situation is different than some of the other hotspots," she said. "It has been throughout, since this started."
"Let's look at what the health evidence is telling us around where the areas of greatest risk of transmission or acquisition are and focus efforts on that."