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After 100 days in lockdown, Toronto wants to move into grey zone

After 100 days in lockdown, Toronto’s mayor and top doctor said Wednesday they’re ready for the province to lift a stay-at-home order for the city.

The city’s medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa announced the change during a Wednesday press conference with Mayor John Tory, calling it “a modest step toward more flexibility.” She encouraged people to act in ways that do not “squander” this opportunity.

Toronto will be staying in lockdown, but moving into the grey zone.

While de Villa did not provide an exact date, she did say the change would take place in the coming days. The province previously extended its stay-at-home order for Toronto until at least March 8.

“While I believe moving into grey is reasonable, we are also scaling up enhanced safety measures to protect those essential frontline workers who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” said de Villa, adding that people in the city have “earned this change… often at a personal sacrifice.”

Toronto’s update comes as Ontario reports an additional 958 cases of the illness. The total number of deaths connected with the novel coronavirus has now surpassed 7,000 in the province.

However, the new cases reported Wednesday are the lowest single-day increase logged in the last two weeks. In Toronto, there were 290 new cases reported, according to de Villa.

She remains concerned by some of the COVID-19 variants, noting that the number of cases screening positively for a variant “has more than doubled” in the span of a week.

“This is the right approach,” Tory said, adding that “vaccinations taken together with regional and economic realities make it the right time for Toronto to move cautiously back.”

Ontario’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccines continues,  but because the effort has been left to each individual health unit, the pace depends on where a person lives. 

While some units have begun vaccinating seniors over the age of 80, Toronto has not yet started. During an update earlier this week, de Villa did not provide a clear answer as to when people aged 80 and above in the city can expect to receive a vaccine.

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