Ford expected to announce today if Toronto can move on to Stage 2 of reopening plan


Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce today whether Toronto can move ahead to Stage 2 of the province's reopening plan, which would allow restaurant patios, hair salons, and barbershops to reopen across the city this week.

Toronto, Peel Region, and the region of Windsor-Essex are the only three areas in Ontario that have been held back from moving on to Stage 2 due to a higher number of active cases of COVID-19.

Mayor John Tory told CP24 that he is "optimistic" that the city will be given the green light this week.

The province has seen a decline in case growth over the past week along with a drop in virus-related hospitalizations.

Ontario reported 175 new cases of the virus on Sunday and close to 70 per cent of the cases (119) were from Toronto, Peel, and Windsor-Essex.

Tory said that the numbers over the past 14 days suggest that Toronto is ready to move on to the next stage.

"Those numbers have given people every reason, including me, to be very optimistic about today and to expect some good news but I guess we will have to see," Tory said on Monday morning. 

The mayor said people will need to be cautious and continue to follow physical distancing guidelines when the city does enter Stage 2, which could happen as early as this Friday.

"There were some things that happened over the weekend that are a bit of a lesson for us in terms of what we should not be doing when we move to Stage 2... but I believe that good news is at hand," he said. 

Tory was referencing a party that occurred at Cherry Beach, where large crowds gathered on Saturday night.

"People have to take some personal responsibility," Tory said, adding that it is difficult for the city to enforce physical distancing rules at those types of gatherings.

"I understand the fact that a lot of the venues where people would normally be on a warm Saturday night in the summer are closed and the reopening will help with that." 

He added that there is a sense of "invincibility" among some young people.

"People have to decide that if they don't want to see another uptick in the cases and another shutdown that they have to stop doing this," Tory said. 

'This is a coin toss'

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch told CP24 on Monday that it is difficult to know whether Toronto, Peel, and Windsor are ready to reopen.

"Certainly it has been very, very promising that our case numbers have stayed consistently below 200 for the province of Ontario," he said.

"The impacted areas are still the same... While the numbers haven't gotten worse, they also haven't significantly improved either."

He said he sees the province's decision today as a bit of a "coin toss."

"Certainly arrows pointing in the right direction but there hasn't been a budge in the numbers just yet," he said. 

Ford is expected to speak at Queen's Park at 1 p.m. alongside Health Minister Christine Elliott, Finance Minister Rod Phillips, and Labour Minister Monte McNaughton.