By: Surjit Flora
As Peel Region continues to grapple with elevated COVID-19 case counts, the province unveiled plans earlier this week to “colour-code” regions at risk of lockdown through a new tiered alert system.
Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott unveiled the new system Tuesday, placing Peel squarely in the middle of a five-stage framework that runs from green (minimum limit) to gray (lockdown).
“It is clear that COVID-19 will be around us for some time… The framework will serve as an early warning system that will allow us to expand and reduce public health restrictions based on the region or community’s size and scale in response to the surge and waves of COVID. -19”, Ford said. “By adopting public health measures as early as possible, we can contain this deadly virus, bend the corners, and resume more normal lives.”
The new framework came on the same day as a new record high for COVID-19 cases, with Peel singled out as a hotspot by municipal representatives.
“If further surges come, public health capacity may be overwhelmed – and that means our hospital system is next,” said Peel’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Lawrence Loh, during a press conference in Mississauga Wednesday afternoon. “It’s clear that now is not the time to let down our guard. We must take strong and immediate action now.”
The region recorded 299 cases on Wednesday, with Brampton singled out as having a COVID-19 test positivity rate at nearly double the provincial average.
Under the new framework, Peel will be able to reopen restaurants, bars, and gyms for indoor usage – but with heavy restrictions. A limit of fifty people will be allowed inside any establishment at one time, with no more than four guests at a table, while indoor fitness centres and gyms will limit 50 people per facility at once, with a maximum of ten per room for indoor classes.
There is no region currently within the gray (lockdown) or red (control) classification of the presently announced provincial restrictions. Peel, along with Toronto, Ottawa and York Region, remain in an orange (restrict) classification. The province said that each affected region in the province would be assessed every 28 days to see if its class should be upgraded or reduced.
The health and well-being of Ontario people is our top priority said, Elliott. “The framework…the focus is on introducing less invasive measures as early as possible to stop the spread of COVID-19. We are committed to Be transparent with Ontario, businesses and local communities because we work together to ensure Ontario’s safety while keeping the economy open.”
In another part of the world, British lawmakers said on Tuesday that the upcoming blockade in England aims to reduce the transmission rate of COVID-19 to the point where it ends on December 2. During the lockout period, as a preventive measure, all shops, shops, restaurants and businesses will remain closed, while schools, colleges and universities will remain open.
“We have been forced to implement a national lockdown because the Coronavirus is spreading so fast,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a news conference on Saturday evening. “The death toll is rising. The biggest concern is that we are running out of National Health Service services to deal with this catastrophic situation.”