Just 18 new cases across Halton Region today as Premier Ford delays further restrictions

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Premier Doug Ford says political pressure is not the reason Halton Region hasn't been moved into a modified Stage 2 format to fight the coronavirus. However, he failed to provide any reason for not making the move.

In his media briefing today, the Premier said the letter written by Halton's four mayors asking him to not impose further restrictions was informative, but not the deciding factor.

Instead, the Premier said he encouraged the mayors to let Peel's Medical Officer of Health (MOH) know their feelings.

Ford said he appreciated the input from the mayors, but that he listens to a lot of advice from various sources.

"I hear what they are saying," he said. "But we don't base our decisions on letters."

When pressed later, Health Minister Christine Elliott said the Province is still considering what to do with Halton.

"Any decision that will be made will be made on the medical evidence," said Elliott adding that the move is still on the table.

Meanwhile, the Province did announce Ontario will be introducing a "pandemic budget" on November 5 that will not include any tax increases.

This comes after four consecutive days of relatively low numbers in the region with 18 new cases recorded today in Halton. There were 31 cases on Sunday, 34 Saturday and 16 Friday. That's an average of just under 25 new cases a day. A person has died as a result of the coronavirus over the past few days in Halton.

On the weekend, the mayors from all four Halton municipalities joined forces to call on the Premier to back off on further COVID restrictions based on the data.

Ford said the media misinterpreted this response and that he is the one who encouraged the letter-writing - but to Halton's MOH - after a telephone discussion with Oakville Mayor Rob Burton.

As well, sources insist the delay on a decision for Halton may have come as a result of pressure put on Ford from Progressive Conservative MPPs from Halton.

Still, with record-breaking cases across Ontario this past weekend and with neighbouring Peel Region recording large numbers in the past four days, the Premier could change his mind. He is well aware that people from Mississauga and Brampton have been travelling to Oakville and Milton to eat at restaurants and go to fitness centres which could spread the virus.

Under a modified Stage 2 situation — which Toronto, Peel and York Regions as well as Ottawa are now under — restrictions would be placed on social gatherings, public events, indoor restaurant dining, gyms, movie theatres, open houses among other activities.

Halton, along with Durham Region, are the only GTA municipalities in Stage 3, which has looser restrictions on what the public and businesses are allowed to do.

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