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Restaurants, retail reopen in York Region as Toronto, Peel remain under stay-at-home order
Feb. 23, 2021
Michael Ranger

One of the GTA’s COVID-19 hot spots is returning to the province’s colour-coded system of pandemic restrictions on Monday, while a stay-at-home order remains in effect for Toronto and Peel Region.

Businesses in York Region are allowed to reopen as the public health unit moves to the second-most restrictive level of the province’s pandemic framework.

Non-essential retailers and restaurants will be able to welcome customers back, with capacity limits and physical distancing in place.

The Ford government announced Friday that York would be placed under ‘Red-Control’, joining Durham, Halton, Hamilton, and other regions in the process. The government decided to hold Toronto and Peel back after health officials in both regions expressed concern that the reopening was moving too quickly.

York has long logged some of Ontario’s highest COVID-19 case counts, but the region’s chief medical officer of health requested that the province move it back to the tiered framework to bring it in line with most of Ontario’s other public health units.

Markham mayor Frank Scarpitti said Monday that he’s happy things are reopening but would like to see it happen more gradually with heavier restrictions. Scarpitti thinks the region should continue to ban all indoor social gatherings, limit the capacity of grocery stores to 50 per cent and big box retailers, shopping malls to 25 per cent.

“These are measures that I think we need to take for now,” says Scarpitti. “Until we are able to monitor, for a couple of more weeks, the impact of the COVID-19 variants.”

After two weeks, the government will assess the impact of public health and workplace safety measures to determine if the region should stay where it is or be moved to a different level.

“While the health indicators have improved enough to allow us to return an additional region to the Framework, we are not yet at the point where we can safely transition back the remainder of the province,” said Dr. David Williams.

‘Red-Control’ measures and details

Restaurants, Bars, and other food establishments:

 Public Events and Social Gatherings:

 Sports and Fitness Facilities:

 When Toronto and Peel were shut down in December, and York was still open, the province saw a rise in cases as Ontarians hopped from region to region.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott says they don’t want people travelling between regions at this point.

“This isn’t a reopening, everything is back to normal. Not at all,” she said. “Please stay in your own region, please follow the public health measures and sooner or later everyone will get to that place.”

Vaughan mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua stopped short of calling on visitors to stay out of the region come Monday.

“I’m not here to divide people. I think that in the GTA we share in the risk and benefits of our common citizenship,” he said. “I think what you have to do when you come to York Region, you have to respect the rules, the laws and regulations of the region and of the province.”

Federal projections released on Friday suggest COVID-19 variants could fuel 20,000 new cases per day by mid-March if public health restrictions are relaxed.

The stay-at-home order remains in effect only for Toronto, Peel and North Bay-Parry Sound until at least March 8.