Toronto's top doctor recommends moving city to 'grey' zone next week

·2 min read

Toronto's top doctor is asking the province to lift a stay-at-home order and move the city to the strictest "grey" category of Ontario's pandemic restrictions system next week.

The stay-at-home order that was imposed in January, with other measures that include the closure of non-essential retail, is set to expire Monday.

Dr. Eileen De Villa, Toronto's medical officer of health, said Wednesday that lifting the order is reasonable but precautions still must be taken.

"While there are evident reasons for a change in status, there remain reasons or risks that underscore how moving back into grey status is and will be a delicate balance," she said.

Moving to the grey category, which allows retailers to open at 25 per cent capacity, is better than placing the city in the second-strictest red category, which allows indoor restaurant dining and personal care services, she said.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said he believes moving to the grey category is the right approach.

"The cautious transition is the right way to go, all things considered," he said.

Tory said he hopes the approach will help ensure the city will not have to undergo another shutdown.

De Villa also issued a new order for workplaces, requiring businesses to ensure mask use at all times during an outbreak, should the city be moved to the grey category.

The order also requires businesses to keep a record of everyone entering the workplace during an outbreak.

Tory said the city has reached out to the Ministry of Labour to help support the move with increased workplace inspections over the coming days.

Meanwhile, the top doctor of neighbouring Peel Region, which is also under a stay-at-home order, recommended his area move to the grey-lockdown zone as well.

The move would preserve the progress made in the fight against the virus, said Dr. Lawrence Loh.

Toronto reported 290 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, while Peel Region reported 164.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Denise Paglinawan, The Canadian Press