Ontario keeps York Region out of lockdown but moves three other regions to stricter zones under COVID-19 response framework
Published Friday, December 4, 2020 12:57PM EST
Last Updated Friday, December 4, 2020 2:30PM EST
The Ford government has decided not to move York Region into lockdown after speculation the region would face tighter restrictions amid rising COVID-19 cases.
With cases on the rise in the GTA, some indicators this week suggested York could have been moved to the grey “lockdown” level, where Toronto and Peel Region have been since Nov. 23.
York currently is in the red “control” level of the province’s framework, one category above “lockdown.”
York Region has seen an average of 111 new cases per 100,000 residents over the last week, which is higher than Toronto’s weekly incidence rate when it was placed under a lockdown (97.9).
York's incident rate is also well above the threshold for a red zone which is 40 new cases per 100,000 residents.
York Region's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Karim Kurji said his modelling showed that moving to lockdown would do little.
"It clearly shows that gain from going into lockdown compared to being in the red zone with enhanced enforcement in minimal."
He said bylaw officers and public health inspectors will be out "every day' enforcing guidelines and he hopes numbers will start to decline by Dec. 14, the 28th day the latest set of restrictions will have been in place.
On Friday, the province recorded 1,780 new COVID-19 cases, with 633 in Toronto, 433 in Peel and 152 in York.
Also on Friday, the provincial government announced three regions would be moving to stricter levels under its COVID-19 response framework.
Middlesex-London Health and Thunder Bay District Units both moved from the yellow “protect” level to the orange “restrict” category, the third-highest level of the province’s five-tiered colour-coded framework.
The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is also moving from the green “prevent” to the yellow “protect” level, the second-most lenient category of the framework.
"Over the last seven days we have seen the trends in key public health indicators continue to go in the wrong direction in these three regions," Christine Elliott, minister of health, said in a press release issued on Friday. "By taking proactive action and moving these regions to a higher level in the framework, we are helping them to reduce transmission in the community and avoid broader closures.”
Both the “protect” and “restrict” levels have enhanced targeted enforcement and fines to limit further transmission, including lower limits on indoor dining, retail and sporting events, and specific limits for indoor and outdoor gatherings.
Public health units will stay in their level for at least 28 days and then the government will reassess the units to determine if they can move to a different level.
The government said all other public health regions will remain at their current level but trends in public health data will continue to be reviewed weekly to determine if regions should be moved into a higher level with more restrictions.