Toronto and Peel Region
Today, the Ontario government announced that Toronto and Peel Region will move to Stage 2 on Wednesday, June 24 at 12:01 am. These regions will join the 31 other public health regions already in Stage 2 and will see patios, personal care facilities, recreational facilities and other services permitted to open with strict physical distancing in place. The provincial Framework for Reopening Our Province: Stage 2 outlines the details.
The government is confident that Toronto and Peel Region are ready to join Stage 2. The decision was made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and local medical officers of health. Over the last week, Toronto and Peel had a significant increase in testing and positive local trends of key public health indicators, including lower transmission of COVID-19, ongoing hospital capacity, public health capacity to do rapid case and contact management.
The province saw thousands of small business re-open this past weekend and will see thousands more open later this week with two of the largest regions in the province able to open. The government is encouraging people to support their local businesses as they reopen. This means more people will be back to work and the province is one step closer to restarting the economy.
Windsor-Essex is now the sole region in Stage 1. The trends in Windsor-Essex have not yet improved and the situation there will continue to be assessed on an ongoing basis. The government will do everything it can to help Windsor-Essex move to Stage 2 as soon as it safe to do so. The government is committed to protecting agri-food workers and in collaboration with the federal and local authorities are building on the work done by Windsor-Essex Health Unit to respond to the situation there:
The Chief Medical Officer of Health has recommended that local medical officers of health issue class orders under section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act. Through this authority, they can ensure that employers of temporary workers take action to decrease the risk of COVID-19 transmission on farms.
The province continues to take a cautious approach with regional reopening. The government, Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts continue to urge everyone to exercise caution and follow public health advice, especially physical distancing with anyone outside of your social circle, wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge and washing hands frequently.
The government did not provide any indication of when regions could move to Stage 3. A full assessment still needs to be done on the impact of Stage 2 openings.
What It Means
Encouraging news out of Queens Park today, as Premier Ford announced that two of the largest regions in the province, the Greater Toronto Area and Peel regions, would join the majority of the province in full Stage 2 reopening. The past weeks have shown a more thoughtful and measured approach to reopening the province from the Ford Government, as they deliberate multiple paths forward to a full province wide Stage 3. The message from the Premier was clear however; moving the entire province towards Stage 2 is encouraging, however all Ontarians must continue to follow the advice of their regional public health professionals and continue to social distance.
Today also brought one of the first examples of this regional approach in action, as the Chief Medical Officer of Health strongly suggested that regional medical officers use their authority to provide enhanced response and recommendations to the agri-foods sector, in light of the recent surge in COVID19 cases. This, coupled with more testing and safeguards, aims to bring the Windsor-Essex County into Stage 2 with the rest of the province, while continuing to maintain a safe agri-foods sector.