Published Friday, November 6, 2020 7:44AM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 6, 2020 5:04PM EST
Premier Doug Ford had said earlier this week that the modified Stage 2 restrictions in Peel, York and Ottawa would be lifted at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday and that all three regions would be moved into the orange “restrict” category, which permits up to 50 people to dine indoors or workout at a gym.
That has now changed in Peel.
The category still technically permits most businesses to reopen but it caps indoor capacity at bars, restaurants, gyms, meeting spaces and casinos at just 10 people. It also prevent cinemas from reopening entirely.
That, however, may be moot as Cineplex has previously said that it has no intention of reopening its theatres in orange zones due to the new capacity limit of 50 people.
Follow this link to see where your region falls in the new framework
“The numbers that we are seeing in Peel and specifically Brampton they are just going through the roof. It is out of control right now and we have to react,” Ford said during his daily COVID-19 briefing on Friday. “These are the tough decisions I absolutely hate making but at the end of the day I have to make these decisions.”
Under the framework released earlier this week, bars and restaurants in orange zones can serve up to 50 patrons indoors so long as they stop serving alcohol at 9 p.m. and close entirely by 10 p.m. They are also prohibited from seating more than four people together.
In red zones, the restrictions are the same but only 10 people will be allowed inside at any one time.
Meanwhile, gyms and recreational facilities in red zones will also face a capacity limit of 10 people in areas with weight or exercise equipment with the added caveat that team sports are limited to training only with no games or scrimmages.
“At the end of the day they just have to hunker down,” Ford said of Peel Region on Friday. “We have two choices here. We either let this go hog wild, just out of control, we won’t have hospital capacity and people will be dying and the COVID cases will be running rampant across Peel or we do some preventative maintenance. You know, we are not even asking them to even stay in Stage 2. They are going to be able to at least bring some people into their restaurants and hopefully flip the tables as quickly as possible.”
Peel’s positivity rate is up to 11 per cent
Peel Region has reported 104 new infections for every 100,000 people over the last week, which is above the 100 infection per capita benchmark that is listed among the province’s indicators for moving regions into the red category.
Its positivity rate has also surpassed 11 per cent and on Friday Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh told CP24 that the region is likely the “hardest hit” place in Canada when it comes to COVID-19.
“We more concerning starting to see significant spikes with hospitalizations” he said. “My colleagues at William Osler Hospital are advising that they have hundreds of people either confirmed or probable with COVID-19 and once it gets into the hospitals it is not about different settings into the community any more it is about stopping our in-person interactions as much as possible and trying to get this thing back under control,” he said.
Government sources had told CTV News Toronto on Friday morning that Ford’s cabinet was discussing whether to designate Peel Region as a whole as a red zone or just Brampton, where more than two-thirds of all new cases of COVID-19 have been clustered.
In the end they opted for the wider region, making Peel the only part of Ontario with the additional restrictions.
In an interview with CP24 later on Friday afternoon, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said he sees the designation as a sort of “modified solution” that will help some restaurants remain open.
“My initial concern was that when you look at our data in Peel Region restaurants were not part of the spread. They are not where COVID was being contracted,” he said. “If anything over the last month that numbers have spiked what we have found in Peel Region is that when you close restaurants it causes more social gatherings. People that had lunch meetings, dinner meetings rather than it being in a restaurant where it was safe and there was PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and required physical distancing it was taking place in private settings and the same observance of public health protocols wasn’t followed.”
As part of the government’s new designations, Ottawa and York Region will move into the “Restrict” or orange category, while ten other public health regions including Halton, Hamilton and Durham will move to the “Protect” or Yellow category.
All other public health regions will be placed in the lowest category, called Prevent.
It should be noted that Toronto will remain in a modified version of Stage 2 until Nov. 14 at the request of Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and Mayor John Tory.
Officials have previously said that whenever a region is moved into a new category it will remain there for a period of at least 28 days.