BY SURJIT SINGH FLORA
Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon will have to wait for a reopening as the province enters its third stage of COVID19 recovery, said the province earlier this week. Peel is not on the list of 24 regions set to reopen most facilities tomorrow (July 17), as outlined by Premier Doug Ford during a press conference Monday.
That means restrictions on restaurants and bars that are serving outside on patios will remain in place, and gyms will not be allowed to open. Ford did not specify when Peel Region and the other regions remaining at Stage 2, including Toronto and Durham Region, among others, would be allowed to move forward, but pledged to provide another update next week. “As we all know, these regions entered Stage 2 later on, so we need just a little more time,” he said. Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said Monday that Peel and other regions not moving forward would be likely to move to the next phase four weeks after they entered Stage 2.
Peel Region entered that stage on June 24. Stage 3 allows gatherings of up to 50 people indoors, so long as two metres of physical distancing is possible, and up to 100 outside. According to the government’s framework, virtually all businesses and public spaces will be allowed to reopen in Stage 3, except for buffetstyle food services, private karaoke rooms, saunas and amusement parks. Club activities / dancing will also not be allowed in restaurants and bars in Stage 3, unless they’re hired by the establishment and follow health guidelines.
Following the announcement, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie tweeted that she was “confident” that the city and GTA would soon move into Stage 3. “Our goal is to move forward and never once look back,” she said. Employees at Square One Shopping Centre change the cartridge for a hand sanitizer dispenser during the first day of mandatory mask usage in Peel Region, on July 10, 2020. Peel is not listed in the regions allowed to proceed to Stage 3 of the provincial reopening, as outlined earlier this week. (PWN Staff) “Our businesses and our people can’t afford to do this again.” After Ford’s announcement, Mayors and Chairs from across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area met again to discuss the ongoing response to COVID-19 and preparations for Stage 3.
With the province announcing the reopening, GTHA Mayors and Chairs welcomed the fact that the province continues to work closely with local Medical Officers of Health and demonstrated sensitivity to differing regional realities. “Reopening in a measured way depending on local facts will help protect the gains we have made in fighting the pandemic. This also allows GTHA municipalities and businesses additional time to prepare so that we can continue to protect our residents,” said the group in a joint statement Monday. “We fully support continuing to move forward with this kind of measured reopening that is sensitive to regional differences, and we thank Premier Ford, his Ministers, and his officials for their ongoing cooperation. Given the increase in COVID-19 cases we have seen in other jurisdictions that have reopened earlier than the GTHA, we support continuing the cautious approach we have taken so far in Ontario.” While cities continue to respond to the pandemic, they are experiencing unprecedented costs and significant revenue losses, the group said.
“We remain hopeful a federal-provincial funding agreement to support municipalities can be reached to avoid devastating cuts to frontline services or unaffordable property tax increases… cities across the GTHA made it clear that decisions on cuts are forthcoming if they do not hear from the federal and provincial governments soon and that those discussions with their respective officials have already begun. “Data from Peel Health shows that on Saturday, July 4, the region had 31 new cases reported and 6,381 total COVID19 infections.
By Saturday, July 11, Peel’s total had grown by 215 cases, or 3.6 percent, to 6,596 total COVID-19 infections. At the July 13 press conference, Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce announced that the size of childcare centre cohorts would be expanding across the province this month. As of July 27, childcare centres and home childcare providers would be allowed to have up to 15 children, moving up from 10. The cap would be raised regardless of whether the childcare provider’s region has moved into Stage 3, a spokesperson from Ford’s office confirmed in an email.