Canada

Toronto mayor glad the GTA is sitting out Stage 3 reopening

Delaying the GTA’s involvement in the province’s latest reopening plans will backstop progress already made in combating COVID-19, Toronto’s mayor says.

Speaking Monday at the city’s thrice-weekly COVID-19 press briefing, John Tory agreed with the province’s decision to exclude the GTA from this Friday’s Stage 3 reopening, which — among other measures — would see restaurant dining rooms, theatres and fitness facilities back in business.

“Reopening in a measured way, depending on local realities including those in the city of Toronto, will help to protect the gains we have made in fighting this pandemic,” Tory said.

“We thank Premier Ford and his ministers for this continuing co-operative approach.”

This Friday, all communities in Ontario — with the exception of Toronto, Hamilton, Niagara, and the regional municipalities of Durham, Haldimand-Norfolk, Halton, Lambton, York, Peel and Windsor-Essex — will transition to Stage 3, allowing almost all businesses and public spaces to reopen.

Amusement and water parks, overnight kids’ camps, saunas, bathhouses, steam rooms and casino table games are among the services that remain closed in Stage 3.

The GTA was likewise initially left out of last month’s Stage 2 reopening, not catching up until June 24.

Tory said observing how other jurisdictions react to reopening provides valuable information on how Toronto may fare when COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed.

“With what we have seen happen elsewhere, including Montreal, we have some real concerns about the manner in which bars and clubs reopen, and will make sure our local medical officers of health are focused on these establishment to ensure the safety and health of both customers and staff,” he said.

Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Eileen de Villa, echoed the mayor’s sentiments, saying experiences in other cities highlight the need to proceed with caution.

“There have been recent reports of COVID-19 outbreaks in many Canadian and U.S. cities since they reopened earlier this month,” she said. “Some cities, which had modest outbreaks, are now reporting spikes, while others are reporting sudden and alarming surges of infections.”

No date has been set on when other regions will transition to Stage 3.

As of Monday, there are 14,897 COVID-19 cases in Toronto, an increase of 120 over the weekend. Some 151 people are hospitalized, with 31 receiving intensive care.

In all, 13,148 people have recovered from the virus since the beginning of the outbreak, and 1,120 people have died in the city.

bpassifiume@postmedia.com
On Twitter: @bryanpassifiume

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