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Restrictions extended in Toronto, Peel Region, Hamilton moved to Grey-Lockdown

Friday, December 18, 2020 @ 5:36 PM | By John Schofield

Faced with a relentless rise in new COVID-19 cases, Ontario is extending its Grey-Lockdown public health restrictions in Toronto and Peel Region until at least Jan. 4 and moving Hamilton into the grey zone for the same duration effective Dec. 21 at 12:01 a.m.

In a Dec. 18 news release, the government also announced that, at the same time, the Brant County Health Unit and Niagara Region Public Health will be moved to the Red-Control level of restrictions. Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health will be shifted to Orange-Restrict, and the Timiskaming Health Unit will go to Yellow-Protect. Public Health Sudbury & District is being moved from Yellow-Protect to Green-Prevent.

Other public health regions will remain at the same level, as detailed in the province’s colour-coded COVID-19 response framework, which the government has labelled the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework.

“With public health indicators continuing to worsen in Toronto and Peel, we are making the difficult but necessary decision to extend public health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, protect our hospital capacity and safeguard the key services we rely on," Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott said in the news release.

The government news release noted that, even after nearly four weeks in lockdown, Toronto and Peel Region have seen a continued increase in public health indicators. Over that time, the case rate in Peel Region increased by 8.6 per cent to 199.1 cases per 100,000 people, while Toronto saw an increase of 37.5 per cent to 127.5 cases per 100,000 people. Hospitalizations have risen by 54 per cent in Peel and by 40.9 per cent in Toronto, resulting in delays for surgeries and other procedures at several hospitals. Positivity rates also remain well above the 2.5 per cent high-alert threshold, at 8.5 per cent in Peel and 5.8 per cent in Toronto.

On Dec. 18, Elliott, Premier Doug Ford and chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams held an emergency meeting with Ontario hospital leaders to discuss next steps to address the concerning trends in cases and hospital capacity.

“As the number of new cases in Ontario continue to rise, it is evident additional measures are needed in certain regions to stop the spread of the virus,” Williams said in the release.

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