Ontario to allow Toronto and Peel to enter Stage 3 on Friday
Published Wednesday, July 29, 2020 7:36AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 29, 2020 4:22PM EDT
The Ford government will allow Peel Region and Toronto to enter Stage 3 of its reopening plan this Friday.
This means that Friday, July 31 at 12:01 a.m., activities such as indoor dining and indoor fitness activities will be able to resume in those areas.
"While more restaurants, theatres and businesses can hang up their Open for Business sign, we're asking everyone to follow public health advice and act responsibly," Premier Doug Ford said Wednesday in a press release. "We have made tremendous progress that allows us to return to something a little closer to our normal lives this summer, but we are not out of the woods yet."
Windsor-Essex, the site of major outbreaks on farms and in agribusinesses, will remain in Stage 2 until such time as its COVID-19 case growth falls.
"The government continues to address the needs of the region, in partnership with other levels of government, through measures such as on-farm testing, the deployment of mobile testing units and the adoption of new public health guidance for positive asymptomatic workers for all workplaces," provincial officials said in the release.
Epidemiologist Dr. Isaac Bogoch told CP24 Wednesday that it would be hard for any official to justify holding back Toronto or Peel any longer.
"This is one of the first times that the case numbers in the GTA were lower than in the rest of Ontario. I don't think we can stand here in Stage 2 forever and I think it's time to move forward."
Toronto reported six new cases of the virus on Monday and only one on Tuesday.
Ford is set to make an announcement at 1 p.m. from Queen’s Park to provide more details. He will be joined by Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care.
Mayor John Tory spoke at a news conference today and said the city has been preparing and is ready to transition into Stage 3.
"It seems like a long way from the scary days of the winter when we were having our meetings at the beginning of the pandemic and hearing numbers that were almost incomprehensible, in terms of case counts and also projections as to how many people could lose their lives or become ill," Tory said.
Tory said moving into Stage 3 is the result of hard work by Torontonians and frontline workers throughout the pandemic.
"It's taken a long time and a lot of sacrifice but I think it's also fair to say now the really hard work begins because when you get down to the stage where you have one new case on a given day, which was the case yesterday, there's only one direction to go and you don't want to go in that direction but there is only one direction," Tory said.
For Stage 3, council has passed enhanced safety bylaws, including limiting indoor capacity and table sizes at bars and restaurants. Customers will also be required to stay seated at all times except when using the washroom or paying.
The province said Wednesday it is supportive of Toronto's additional measures for bars and restauarants.
City council is also implementing a temporary bylaw that will require masks and face coverings to be used in common spaces in condominium and apartment buildings.
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown spoke at a news conference this morning and said Ford made the right call about moving Peel into Stage 3.
“Given that our medical officers of health agreed that it was safe to move into Stage 3, I believe the province has taken the correct course," Brown said. "We have seen single digit case counts in Brampton for much of the last week.”
“The work that everyone is doing, wearing a mask, washing their hands, maintaining physical distancing, getting tested, it is working.”
Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie tweeted her excitement about the news but reminded the public to remain vigilant to stop the spread of the virus.
"This is only possible because of the hard work of residents and businesses," Crombie tweeted. "While this is the last stage, by no means is this pandemic over - far from it. Let’s be smart, play it safe and continue to practice COVID-19 prevention."
On Tuesday, the province reported 111 new cases of COVID-19, with 25 cases in Ottawa and 22 in Windsor-Essex.
Ottawa and Sudbury, which are both in Stage 3, have recently seen new cases emerge but Premier Ford said Tuesday there are no plans to roll back the reopening in any areas and that Ontario is moving in the right direction.
Peel Region is moving to Stage 3 on Friday! This is only possible because of the hard work of residents and businesses. While this is the last stage, by no means is this pandemic is over - far from it. Let’s be smart, play it safe and continue to practice #COVID19 prevention. https://t.co/NkHLhgakwb— Bonnie Crombie (@BonnieCrombie) July 29, 2020
This was based on the recommendation of Ontario & Peel’s Medical Officers of Health. Our #COVID__19 case counts are consistently down. We can’t let up wearing masks, washing hands, maintaining physical distance but I do agree this was the right call. @fordnation #onpoli https://t.co/5QQb0gmYaq— Patrick Brown (@patrickbrownont) July 29, 2020