Three regions in the GTA entered the COVID-19 red zone today at 12:01 AM, following Ontario’s lowering of thresholds for the different levels of its new pandemic response system.
Hamilton, York, and Halton regions joined Toronto and Peel in the Red Zone, where they will see the strictest public health measures before a full lockdown. Unlike Quebec’s Red Zones, Ontario’s Red Zones do not see businesses like restaurants and gyms closed, they are instead limited to a capacity of 10 people.
The province has also moved six regions into the Orange Zone, and another six in the Yellow Zone. The government changed its thresholds following new projections which saw Ontario hitting up to 6500 COVID-19 cases a day by mid-December.
While announcing the changes on Friday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that the province is “staring down the barrel of another lockdown.” Ford added that as soon as Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams gives him “the green light” for a lockdown, he won't hesitate to reimpose one.
There is growing concern across the province about the potential harms that another lockdown would have on people’s mental and physical health, as well as on the economy. Canada saw a spike in opioid and suicide deaths during widesread lockdowns imposed in the spring, and the CFIB warns that another lockdown could kill 250,000 Canadian small businesses.