York Region moving to ‘modified Stage 2’ amid spike in coronavirus cases

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced that York Region is moving to a “modified Stage 2” amid a spike in coronavirus cases.

Ford said that the measure takes effect Monday, Oct. 19 at 12:01 a.m. and will last for a period of at least 28 days.

Modified Stage 2 includes the closure of indoor dining and drink service, indoor gyms and cinemas, casinos, and performing arts centres.

Personal care services where face coverings have to be removed must also discontinue operations. Interactive exhibits in places like galleries or museums must close.

Read more: Ontario reports 712 new coronavirus cases, 9 more deaths

“My friends, this was not an easy decision to make and I know this will be very, very difficult for many people to hear,” Ford said during a press conference Friday afternoon.

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But we can’t allow this virus to get into our long-term care homes. We need to protect our schools and our communities. We need to keep performing vital surgeries in our hospitals. We need to stop the spread before things get worse.”

Last Saturday, Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa were the first regions to enter modified Stage 2.

Gathering limits at organized public events, meeting and event spaces, tour and guide services, and in-person teaching events are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors under the restrictions. Team sports are limited to training sessions only.

Read more: Coronavirus: Indoor dining, gyms ordered to close in Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa

Ford cited York Region’s positivity rate and overall rising case count as reasoning behind the decision. He said he had discussions with cabinet members, public health advisors, and local leaders before making the decision.

Ontario reported 712 new coronavirus cases on Friday, 62 of which were from York Region. On Thursday, the region reported 127 out of 783 total cases.

“Like the first three regions to enter a modified Stage 2, we will be there for impacted business owners and workers in York,” Ford said.

He said they will be able to access funding from $300 million that the government is allocating for fixed costs like property taxes, as well as hydro and natural gas bills. Ford said federal government support is available as well.

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“I ask all the people in York Region, please support your local businesses,” Ford said “Please support each other through this.”

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