York Region neighbour Toronto is moving out of shutdown into the grey lockdown zone, while Simcoe County is returning to the red control zone as of Monday, March 8, the province announced today.
York Region remains in the red control zone, into which it transitioned on Monday, Feb. 22.
Peel and North Bay Parry Sound District, which had remained in shutdown with Toronto, are also transitioning into new zones in the province's revised reopening framework as of Monday.
Simcoe Muskoka, which had returned to the grey lockdown zone last week, and six other public health regions are being moved to new levels in the framework.
In the week since Simcoe Muskoka returned to additional lockdown restrictions, medical officer of health Dr. Charles Gardner has faced public opposition from residents, businesses and politicians.
Since then, case totals for the region have dropped by 21 per cent, however, it continues to have the highest number of confirmed B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant cases in Ontario.
Based on a general improvement in trends of key indicators, North Bay Parry Sound District is returning to the red-control level. Toronto and Peel are also making progress, but as their case rates still remain high, they will return to the framework at the grey-lockdown level, the province stated.
"While all regions have returned to the framework, everyone must remain vigilant to help prevent any further increases in transmission," said Dr. David Williams, chief medical officer of health. "The best defence against the virus and all of its variants of concern remains continuing to stay at home, avoiding social gatherings, only travelling outside of your community for essential purposes, and limiting close contacts to your household or those you live with."
All decisions were made in consultation with the local medical officers of health and are based on the latest trends in public health indicators and local context and conditions, the province said.
"Our government is taking a safe and cautious approach to returning to the Framework and due to our progress, all regions of the province will soon be out of the provincewide shutdown," said Christine Elliott, deputy premier and minister of health. "Despite this positive step forward, a return to the framework is not a return to normal. As we continue vaccinating more Ontarians, it remains critical for everyone to continue to follow public health measures and stay home as much as possible to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities."
The following seven public health regions are moving to the following levels:
- Peterborough Public Health;
- Public Health Sudbury and Districts; and
- Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit.
- Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit; and
- Timiskaming Health Unit.
- Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit; and
- Renfrew County and District Health Unit.
All changes will be effective Monday, March 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.
— With files from Erika Engel