The lockdown orders imposed by Doug Ford have ended today for most Ontario regions, this comes as COVID-19 cases continue to drop to levels not seen since the fall.
As of this morning, at 12:01 am, the stay-at-home order has ended for 27 health regions, allowing businesses, gyms, restaurants, and churches to reopen for the first time since Boxing Day, CP24 reports.
Ontario is returning to the COVID-19 Response Framework, a five-tier colour-coded system. Premier Doug Ford has made it clear that his province is "still going to have the most restrictive restrictions right across the country. We are going to do this very slowly, we’re going to do it cautiously, and we’re listening to our chief medical officer."
Niagara is the only region that has been placed in the Grey Zone, previously this tier shut down small businesses while allowing big box stores like Walmart and Costco to stay open, however that has now been changed to also allow small retail businesses to open.
Hotspots like Toronto, Peel, York, and North Bay Parry Sound remain under the harsh stay-at-home order until at least February 22. It is expected that these hot zones will move to the grey zone, however York Regional Council has asked to be placed in the red zone, which would allow for churches and most businesses to reopen with strict capacity limits.
While Ontario is taking its time to reopen, other provinces that previously were on lockdown have been quicker to reopen. Manitoba was the first province to lift its lockdown, which was quickly followed by Alberta and Quebec.