Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie says the city will attempt to clear confusion about COVID-19 restrictions given that the rules are changing again this week in the city west of Toronto.
The city will try to provide clear messaging to residents, business owners and members of religious communities about how they can comply with new restrictions being implemented by Peel Public Health, the majority of which will take effect on Monday, Crombie said on the weekend.
The public health unit is imposing rules that are stricter than those required for the Red-Control zone, into which Peel Region was moved on Saturday.
In a news conference that could happen on Monday, the mayors of Peel Region will try to provide clarity, she said. Peel Region includes Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon.
Crombie said, however, the city is trying to deal with a high-risk situation, with hospitals at near or full capacity and daily case counts continuing to rise, and Peel Region must take action to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“We are in a very dire situation right now. We are almost in crisis mode here in Peel. We have to accept that these are being done for our own health and safety, the health and well-being of our community,” she said.
“Nobody wants to shut down businesses. Certainly, nobody wants to shut down places of religious worship.”
But she said measures announced on Saturday by Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel Region’s medical officer of health, are now necessary.
“Certainly, we have always said that we will follow the science, we will follow the evidence, and we will follow the recommendations of our scientists, of our chief medical officer of health,” Crombie said.
Outbreak at manufacturing plant prompted change in plans
Crombie said Peel Region had expected to join what is called the Orange-Restrict zone on Tuesday, but because of an outbreak at a Mississauga manufacturing plant, the daily case count rose significantly in a short period of time and plans changed.
Dr. David Williams, the province’s chief medical officer of health, recommended to Ontario Premier Doug Ford that Peel Region be moved into the Red-Control zone. Ford accepted the recommendation and Peel Region was moved into the zone on Saturday.
Loh then decided that the Red-Control zone rules did not necessarily address the sources of transmission happening in community settings, due to people continuing to gather at private events, and he announced new restrictions on Saturday that will be implemented in addition to the region placed in the Red-Control zone.
Crombie said it is a case of “lives versus livelihoods.”
Indicators ‘trending in the wrong direction’
In a news release on Saturday, Peel Region said: “These directives have been introduced because indicators that track the pandemic in Peel are trending in the wrong direction. Case counts and test positivity rates remain high, public health capacity is stretched thin, and hospitals are at capacity with some procedures cancelled.”
Crombie acknowledged that the swift changes and the many announcements are causing confusion.
“There is a great deal of confusion and a lot of mixed messaging,” she said. “I hope that we will provide some clarity starting tomorrow morning so that our residents know which path to take and which measures apply to them.”
Loh, for his part, said on Saturday: “It is time to shrink our lives to stop COVID-19 from growing completely out of control. These directives are strict, but they are what is needed to keep people in Peel working and learning, and able to access food, medical care and the basics of everyday life.
“Together, the actions and sacrifices of Peel residents and businesses will stop the spread of COVID-19, help avoid a lockdown and ultimately save lives. We must take aggressive action now to get the pandemic under control in Peel.”
Restaurants to restrict seating, banquet halls to close
His measures will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Monday unless otherwise noted. They will remain in effect until further notice and will be assessed every 14 days as the pandemic continues.
- Social gatherings celebrating holidays and life events in business establishments are not allowed, starting at 12:01 a.m. Nov. 13.
- Wedding receptions and associated gatherings are not allowed, starting at 12:01 a.m. Nov. 13 until at least Jan. 7, 2021.
- Religious services, rites or ceremonies should be virtual. When that is not possible, in-person religious events, including weddings and funerals, must reduce indoor capacity to 30 per cent capacity to a maximum of 50 people per facility, and must seat households together, at least two metres from other groups.
- Bars, restaurants and other food establishments must restrict seating to people from the same household, or their essential supports. No mixed seating is permitted.
- Workplaces must prohibit all non-essential visitors and make work-from-home options available, as much as possible.
- Gyms and fitness centres must make sure all fitness class participants pre-register and provide accurate contact information to help with contact tracing if there is an exposure. No walk-in participation is allowed.
- Meeting and event spaces, including banquet halls, must close.
- Peel residents must restrict their contact to members of their household and essential supports only. Those that live alone may join one designated household.
- Peel residents should not visit any other household or allow visitors to their homes or yards, except for emergency reasons, including medical and repairs, renovations or construction, deliveries and one-on-one tutoring. Proper precautions must always be used in these situations, including mask wearing, distancing, hand hygiene, and isolating if sick.
These measures were issued under Ontario Regulation 263/30, Rules for Areas in Stage 2, sec. 2 (2).
Loh said hospital systems in Peel are near or at full capacity with an increase of COVID-19 admissions.
William Osler Health System is in gridlock with close to 60 patients with COVID-19 in hospital, 40 patients suspected of having the virus, and a growing number of cases in its intensive care unit. Trillium Health Partners is close to capacity.
Both hospital systems have active outbreaks inside their facilities.