Mississauga Mayor welcomes lifting of COVID-19 capacity limits, hopes ‘cautious’ approach sticks

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Published October 22, 2021 at 5:39 pm

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said that having “clarity” and “fairness” about Ontario’s broader reopening plan over the coming months is a postive, but she also sounded a cautious note about the Ontario government’s plans.

Friday, Premier Doug Ford set out a timeline for lifting all COVID-19 public health measures by the end of March, including mask mandates, as part of a long-term plan for managing the virus. The easing of restrictions will start Monday (Oct. 25), with capacity limits lifted in restaurants, bars, gyms, casinos and indoor meeting and event spaces. Museums and galleries, places of worship, and personal care settings that require proof of vaccination can lift capacity limits on Monday too.

“I believe this provides fairness for many of our businesses,” Mayor Crombie wrote in a Twitter thread.

“I’m also thankful we have clarity of what the larger reopening plan for Ontario looks like in the coming months.

“We’re in this position right now because so many (people) have stepped up in Mississauga and across the province to get the vaccine and followed the advice of public health (units).

“We’re also in this position because the Ontario government has taken a cautious approach to reopening.

“I strongly encourage the Ontario government to remain cautious and not hesitate to adjust reopening plans if health trends warrant it, as we have to protect the enormous gains we’ve made.”

The Ford government came under criticism from small business groups for removing capacity restrictions for sports events on Oct. 9, while they were still in place for gyms, and restaurants that allow indoor dining. The Globe & Mail also reported Friday that Ford and the

The province said it will be assessing key public health and health-system indicators — including the identification of new COVID-19 variants and increases in hospitalizations — in the coming months to ensure restrictions can be lifted safely.

“I’m going to be super cautious,” Ford said at a press conference. “If we do not see numbers in a stable place we just aren’t going to do it.”

In modelling released earlier Friday, a group of science experts advising the government said vaccination and public health measures have put Ontario in a good place. But as cold weather drives more activities indoors where the risk of transmission is higher, continuing some public health measures is necessary to maintain control of the pandemic.

Their modelling goes to the end of November, and experts say there’s too much uncertainty to say definitively whether it will be safe to lift vaccine certification starting in January, or mask mandates in March, as the province has planned.

“There’s a chance that it all works out,” said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases physician. “There’s also a chance things get thrown off because of rising cases and you have to change course.”

Most of the financial relief for business owners and workers during the pandemic has come through the federal government. Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath suggested that the Progressive Conservative government must offer grants to help tide over small business owners over the next five to six months. January and February, even in normal non-pandemic circumstances, are the slowest months for restaurants.

“Most Ontarians have done the right thing by getting vaccinated to protect ourselves and our vulnerable neighbours,” Horwath said in a statement released after Ford’s press conference. “We all deserve to get back to safely doing the things we enjoy.”

“Small and local business owners have suffered during the pandemic. Doug Ford has consistently put the needs of his big fish buddies over the needs of the mom-and-pop operations. Small businesses won’t be able to catch up overnight. That’s why we’re calling for a broad round of small business grants to help them rebuild.”

— with files from The Canadian Press

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