Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie has pledged to push for her city to go right into the red category of Ontario’s reopening framework when the current stay-at-home order ends March 8.
Crombie made the vow, which would skip past the province’s lockdown measures and allow for broader reopenings in the city, first at a Mississauga council meeting the morning of Feb. 24 and then at her weekly COVID-19 update press conference later that day.
“Our residents and our businesses have done a tremendous job driving down our numbers and we are averaging 73 cases per 100,000,” she said at the press conference referring to Mississauga’s new COVID-19 case weekly average.
“It’s 40 (cases per 100,000) to enter the red zone so I think we’re there,” she said.
The province requires a weekly COVID-19 case rate of “40 per 100,000 or more” in order to move a region to the Red-Control zone, which permits food and drink establishments, gyms, hair stylists and more to open with restrictions.
Crombie hedged her pledge slightly and said she would push for red “unless we see a sudden increase in our numbers.”
The number and severity of COVID-19 outbreaks in congregate settings, hospital and public health capacity are also considered by the province in moves to the Red-Control zone.
The province also requires a COVID-19 test positivity rate of 2.5 per cent to be in the Red-Control measures and Mississauga’s is 4.5 per cent, as of Feb. 24, according to Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel’s medical officer of health, who also spoke at the presser.
He said he understood and shared Crombie’s hope that “trends would remain favourable,” but didn’t have a position on going to red until any potential ramifications from reopening schools and the spread of variants in the region became clearer.
“I’m required by my mandate and my professional responsibilities to make sure that I’m monitoring the trends and then rendering an opinion at the point where we will be reassessing,” he said.
Loh would be advising the province on whether to place Mississauga and the rest of Peel back into the Ontario’s reopening framework or keeping stay-at-home order in effect.
Peel and Toronto were set to move to the Grey-Lockdown zone Feb. 22, which would have allowed more retail locations to sell items inside and relaxed other restrictions.
Loh and his counterpart in Toronto Dr. Eileen de Villa asked Ontario officials to keep their regions under stay-at-home orders to monitor variant spread and school reopenings.
Crombie successfully moved a motion at Peel regional council Feb. 25 that councillors recommend Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga go “into the Red zone, not Grey, understanding that Dr. Loh Makes the decision and recommendation to province solely.”
York Region moved from stay-at-home orders straight to Red-Control measures Feb. 22 after health officials there recommended it to the province.
According York’s health authority, the region averaged 67 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people on Feb. 22, higher than the province’s Red-Control threshold.
Peel had 86 cases per 100,000 people Feb. 22.