Mississauga mayor to ask Peel’s top doctor to explore how the city might emerge from Stage 2 Lite next month

 

At an Oct. 28 press conference, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie spoke to the city's frustrated business community and announced plans to ask the Region of Peel's top doctor to draft a plan outlining how Mississauga may—or may not—emerge from "Stage 2 lite" on Nov. 7, 2020. 

The announcement came after a solemn discussion during a city council meeting on the impact the 28-day rollback (which began on Oct. 10) is having on people in the foodservice and fitness industries. 

"I’ve heard from many [bar, gym and restaurant owners] over the past few days and weeks and I know that you’re incredibly anxious about your future. I know that you’re frustrated and I know that you’re hurting, but I want you to know that we are in your corner," Crombie said. 

"We’re doing everything in our power to advocate on your behalf. I understand that while restaurants, bars and gyms are not the sources of the spread here in Mississauga, our provincial partners and the chief medical officers of health have made their case clear [that we must] close these establishments to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. It is a global best practice to do so."

While Crombie defended the province's decision to temporarily ban indoor dining and exercising in a bid to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, other members of council seemed less convinced that the move was necessary. 

At the meeting, Ward 5 Councillor Carolyn Parrish said that the province has yet to justify the blanket restrictions on Peel, adding that numbers of new cases don't tell the whole story.

"Raw numbers are unscientific and useless. If I lived in Caledon, I'd be stomping down…and putting up a border. They're closed because the scientists say they're closed. There needs to be a more finely-tuned testing system," she said.

Parrish said that some frustrated business owners are already defying the restrictions. 

"People will take this into their own hands because we're getting numbers that are not scientific," she said, adding that some wards might have few to no active cases at all.  

"We need to demand better reporting of these numbers."

Although Peel has been in a modified Stage 2 for over two weeks, its numbers have gone up rather than down, hitting an all-time high of 289 new cases over the weekend.

The uptick has been linked to large Thanksgiving gatherings

According to a City of Mississauga spokesperson, the city received 14 gathering complaints over the Thanksgiving weekend (Oct. 9 -11). At the press conference, Crombie also mentioned that recent cases have been linked to a wedding in Vaughan and a family gathering attended by COVID-19 positive guests from Quebec. 

The Vaughan wedding Crombie referred to has been identified as a super-spreader event with an impact on Peel. The wedding, which took place over two days earlier this month, has been linked to 46 cases of COVID-19. The majority of the cases -- 33, as of Thursday -- were in Peel Region. 

While Crombie acknowledged that some business owners are chafing at what many believe to be unfair restrictions, she said that Peel Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh will be asked to explore whether or not Mississauga should re-enter Stage 3 next month. 

"The Peel Region mayors are working on a letter that will be sent to Dr. Loh asking him to prepare plans for three possible scenarios as we approach the minimum 28-day period for the modified Stage 2 restrictions that were outlined by the province," Crombie said. 

"We want to be ready and prepared to respond to the second wave as it evolves and circumstances change. Ultimately, it will be up to our public health officials to recommend next steps depending on our pandemic picture here in Peel." 

The three scenarios are as follows: 

  • Status quo: If case rates remain stable, the city might be required to remain in modified Stage 2 for longer and will need to work out a plan to keep businesses, many of which cannot afford repeat lockdowns, afloat. 
  • A return to stage 3: If the city is allowed to move forward, it might need to impose new rules—such as more partitions, stricter capacity limits and shorter hours—on higher-risk businesses. 
  • A need for stricter measures: Should cases continue to climb, the city will ask for hard data to justify stricter measures on businesses. 

"Should case counts increase and further closures be recommended, we ask that those decisions be driven by local data that speaks to our unique circumstances here in Mississauga," Crombie said, adding that she continues to ask higher levels of government for more support for impacted businesses. 

Crombie also said that the city is in the midst of exploring ways to allow patios to stay open through the winter months. 

"Dining is possible this winter in the city. We’re looking to extend our temporary patio program year-round at our next council meeting in early November. I’ve asked the province to help local manufacturers step up production of items that are in currently in short supply, such as patio heaters, so that our businesses can comfortably accommodate customers outside. I’ve asked the province to put a cap on delivery commission fees for food delivery apps for the duration of the shutdown to provide relief to restaurants offering takeout only," she said. 

The province has not yet announced when it will make a formal announcement on which Stage 2 municipalities will be permitted to move back into Stage 3, nor has it recommended any further closures or restrictions at this time. 

With files from The Canadian Press

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