Toronto and Peel Region will enter Stage 2 of Ontario’s reopening plan this Wednesday at 12:01 a.m. as part of the province’s framework to restart the economy post-COVID. This will allow more closed businesses to reopen, including malls, restaurant patios, and hair and nail salons.
Premier Doug Ford made the announcement Monday afternoon, along with Minister of Health Christine Elliott, Minister of Finance Rod Phillips, and Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton, during a news conference at Queen’s Park. The announcement was made in response to positive trends in public health indicators, showing that the province is making steady progress in an effort to contain COVID-19.
Both Toronto and Peel will join the 31 other public health regions that had previously entered Stage 2 on June 12 and June 19, 2020.
“Because of our collective efforts, we continue to make real and significant progress in stopping the spread of COVID-19,” Elliott said. “As a result, more regions have met the public health criteria to move into Stage 2 and reopen more services for the communities to enjoy.”
We have consulted with our medical experts and are pleased to announce that as of Wednesday, June 24 at 12:01AM City of Toronto and Peel Region will enter Stage 2.https://t.co/PCPDSjjOUq pic.twitter.com/3TqII5Z9xH
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) June 22, 2020
“Today’s announcement is another sign that we continue to make steady progress,” Ford said. “We have been working hand-in-hand with our municipal partners and local public health units to safely and gradually reopen the province.”
The initial reaction on social media has been largely mixed, with some calling it long overdue and others concerned it’s too soon.
To date, there are 2,095 active COVID-19 cases in the province, a decrease of 56 from the previous update. Ontario reported 161 new cases of the virus on Monday — the eighth day in over a week that new cases have been under 200 — with 36 new cases in Toronto, 44 in Peel Region, and 32 in Windsor-Essex.
Windsor-Essex will remain in Stage 1 as it continues to trace an ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 among migrant farm workers, although enhanced onsite testing on farms across the region will take place, as well as on-farm inspections and investigations.
“We will do everything we can to get our final region, Windsor-Essex, into Stage 2 as soon as possible. That’s why we are ramping up testing and inspections on Ontario’s farms to protect workers and keep our food supply chains strong and healthy,” Ford said, urging for cooperation.
Although restrictions are being relaxed in Stage 2, the government is recommending that Ontarians follow public health advice, including physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and washing hands thoroughly.
When asked when regions can expect to move forward to Stage 3 of the reopening plan, Elliot said the province won’t be able to do that until they asses the health effects of people from Stage 2, as well as new cases, hospital occupancy, and public health resources to deal with a potential uptake in cases.