By: Mike Anderson
Ontario’s new tiered approach to Covid restrictions is welcome news for local restaurant, bar and gym owners, who were forced to close when the province moved York Region back to a modified Stage 2 on October 19.
York Region has reopened as “Orange-Restrict,” which means indoor dining is allowed with a maximum capacity of 50 people. However, only four people can be seated together. Restaurants and bars must also close by 10 p.m. and cannot serve alcohol after 9 p.m.
Restrictions for gyms include a capacity of 50 patrons, who can only stay a maximum of one hour.
Each colour-code is based on data from different health units, with reassessments occurring every 28 days. For instance, the test positivity rating – the percentage of tests that are positive – for the Orange-Restrict level must be between 2.5 and 9.9 per cent.
York Region has a current test positivity rating of 5 per cent – so there is some room before the region is bumped up to the next level, Red-Control, which would bring back modified Stage 2 restrictions.
However, it is possible that a sudden spike in cases, like we see in Peel Region, could push York, and Georgina along with it, into the Red zone.
This would be unfortunate, as Georgina’s test positivity rate is just one per cent, with 13 active cases. And, according to public health, our local restaurants, bars and gyms have not experienced any outbreaks.
At a special York Region Council session on Nov 3, Mayor Margaret Quirk asked Dr. Karim Kurji, the region’s medical officer of health, whether a more surgical approach could be taken with smaller N6 municipalities, like Georgina, carving them off from the rest of the region.
Dr. Kurji does not support this option.
“Carving up the region is going to pose enormous challenges for us because it would mean different communications strategies, different enforcement strategies, and different rules,” he said.
However, as Georgina’s active cases continue to remain substantially lower than other larger municipalities, like Markham and Vaughan, the argument for a more surgical approach remains.