TORONTO — A stay-at-home order in Toronto, Peel Region and North Bay lifted Monday as the province loosened pandemic restrictions imposed nearly two months ago.
The three regions were the last ones still under the order, and are transitioning back to the government’s colour-coded pandemic response framework.
Toronto and Peel entered the “grey lockdown” category, something local public health officials asked for in both regions.
Even those strict measures, however, allow more retailers to open, with restrictions, but leave gyms and personal care services closed. Restaurants, meanwhile, can only offer takeout, drive-thru or delivery.
Some restaurant owners said they won’t be able to survive much longer unless they’re allowed to reopen for on-site dining, even at limited capacity.
“Move us to the red zone (of the pandemic system) so we have a fighting chance. Even 14 days in grey lockdown could mean the end of my business and many others,” Regan Irvine, owner of the Irv Gastropub in Toronto, said in an open letter to officials issued last week.
“Over the last year, my mother and I have depleted our life savings to try and keep the restaurant afloat. We have cashed RRSPs, drained savings accounts, maxed out credit cards and maxed out lines of credit because the government assistance programs simply aren’t enough.”
North Bay is now in the “red zone,” the second most restrictive level of pandemic measures.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said the government is taking a “safe and cautious approach” to ending the provincewide shutdown, which started in January.