In what’s become a regular Friday occurrence for the last month, the end of the week came with an adjustment to the re-opening guidelines as the Government of Ontario tries again to slow the spread of COVID-19. This week, York Region joins Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa in Stage 2 as Ontario continues to deal with hundreds of new cases of the virus every day in a growing number of hot spots.
Effective Monday October 19 at 12:01 am, York Region will rewind back to Stage 2 for 28 days meaning no indoor dining, indoor entertainment venues like cinemas, and no gyms or fitness centres. It also means public events are kept to 10 people indoors, and 25 people outdoors. The reason? Public heath indicators are going the wrong way. In one week, York Region’s case rate increased by 49 per cent, and hospitalization rates have doubled.
“As the number of new cases in York Region continue to rise, it is evident that additional action is required to keep residents and workers safe from further spread of the virus,” said Minister of Health Christine Elliott in a statement today. “Our government will continue to listen to the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, so we can safely keep our schools open, protect our seniors and most vulnerable, and avoid the need to take harsher measures in the future.
On the week from October 4 to 10, York Region saw 489 new cases, which was nearly 200 cases more than the week before, and on Friday, York reported 62 new cases of COVID-19, which is actually a decrease from 127 on Thursday, but the overall trend has been going up daily, a repeat of the pattern seen in Toronto, Peel, and Ottawa in the weeks before they went back to Stage 2.
With York heading back to Stage 2, the eyes of public health are now on Hamilton and Halton Region. Hamilton saw the number of cases there triple from 60 to 185 last week, while Halton went from 114 new cases one week to 238 last week. At his press conference today, Premier Doug Ford pleaded with the people of Halton Region to stop him from taking them back to Stage 2.
“I’m begging the people of Halton, please, help me out here. I do not want to make that decision for Halton,” Ford said. “Please follow the guidelines to the best of your ability.”
Yesterday, Ford asked everyone in the province to join 4.5 million other Canadians in downloading the COVID Alert app, and encouraged businesses follow the Government of Ontario’s lead by downloading the app on all business devices.
“We have already seen tremendous support from all corners of the province ― and the country ― with millions doing their part. I am proud to say that the Prime Minister, my fellow premiers, mayors and CEOs from some of Canada’s largest institutions are stepping up,” Ford said in a statement. “I encourage everyone to participate because we need all of us pulling in the same direction to make this COVID Alert app work.”