Toronto wants to stay in grey-lockdown zone, with tweaks: city officials

Toronto will not move to the red zone of Ontario's COVID-19 framework, but will instead ask the province to slightly modify its grey-lockdown rules for some outdoor activities.

The city recorded 576 new cases on Wednesday, while hospitalizations climb

Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city's medical officer of health, said the city will seek some changes to the province's grey-lockdown rules, but didn't say what those would be. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Toronto will not move to the red zone of Ontario's COVID-19 framework, but will instead ask the province to slightly modify its grey-lockdown rules for some outdoor activities.

The province will have the ultimate say on Toronto's reopening, but Ontario officials normally adhere to the advice of the public health unit.

It's not immediately clear what those activities will be, but during a press conference on Wednesday, city officials mentioned outdoor dining and fitness. Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city's chief medical officer of health, said there will be a collaborative discussion about potential changes with the province. 

City officials confirmed the CafeTO program, which saw a dramatic increase the number of outdoor restaurant and bar patios in the city, won't be up and running until early May. Those with existing patio space and permits could open sooner if the province allows changes. 

WATCH | Toronto, Peel push to stay in grey zone, with modifications:

Toronto, Peel push to stay in grey zone. But spring weather brings hope for socializing outdoors

1 year ago
Duration 1:45
Both Toronto and Peel Region are pushing the province to keep grey zone lockdown restrictions a while longer, citing rising cases and a strain on the health-care system. But as Lauren Pelley explains, there's also hope that spring weather will bring ways to socialize more safely.

The news comes as city saw 576 new cases in Toronto on Wednesday. The city also launched three new mass vaccination sites, and continued to urge those born in 1941 or earlier to book a shot. 

De Villa said she wouldn't hesitate to tighten rules again if the situation gets worse and pressure increased on the medical system. Right now, the data is showing an increase in hospitalizations, she said, partly driven by coronavirus variants of concern.

De Villa said the changes will be "cautious" and "incremental" as the pandemic continues, and that loosening rules will require people to be more diligent with measures like mask-wearing.

"We've got to up our game," she said.

"What happens in the future relies on what we do."

Peel Region is also having discussions about modifications to the grey zone framework designation to allow for leverage on things like outdoor dining and fitness, officials say.

Meanwhile, nearby York Region remains in the red-control zone, which is the second-most restrictive of the framework.

Ontario typically announces any movement for regions in the framework on Fridays.


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