Ontario premier refuses to commit to further travel measures as stay-at-home order lifts in most of province
TORONTO -- Ontario Premier Doug Ford indicated that while “everything is on the table,” it may not be practical to implement further travel measures such as road checkpoints to prevent people living in lockdown areas from travelling to regions where the stay-at-home order has been lifted.
“It’s hard to police an area with close to 15 million people, the size of California and Texas,” Ford said on CTV’s Your Morning.
“There’s the reality. We can’t be putting roadblocks up on the Highway 11, stopping people from moving point A to point B. Everyone's in this together … I rely on the people and the people have done a great job, the vast majority of the people, and I'm going to continue relying on the people to follow the guidelines of the chief medical officer.”
The province’s stay-at-home order was lifted on Tuesday in all but four of Ontario’s public health units—Toronto, Peel Region, York Region and North Bay Parry Sound District.
Public health units in areas where the stay-at-home order was lifted have transitioned back to the government’s colour-coded COVID-19 tiered framework, which governs what restrictions are in place in each region.
The stay-at-home order will remain in place in the last four regions until at least Feb. 22, at which point they are also expected to transition to the framework
As of Tuesday, Niagara is the only region in the strictest grey-lockdown zone. In this zone, some non-essential businesses are allowed to reopen at 25 per cent capacity.
While businesses in most of Ontario will start to open their doors for the first time since the province-wide lockdown went into effect on Boxing Day, the premier told CTV’s Your Morning he would not call it a “reopening.”
“I’d call it a transition, transition back into the framework. We’re still going to have the most restrictive restrictions right across the country,” Ford said. “We're going to do this very slowly, we're going to do it cautiously and we're listening to our chief medical officer.”
Ford also indicated that COVID-19 hot spots such as Toronto, Peel Region and York Region will “continue being in the grey lockdown area” when they eventually transition to the framework.
“We're taking this very slowly and cautiously.”
When asked about how to prevent people from travelling between zones in order to go to restaurants or go shopping, the premier simply said he has “confidence in the people of Ontario.”
“We’ve come a long way since the lockdown so people have been listening,” Ford said. “Our numbers have dropped drastically, the ICU beds have dropped drastically and it all has to do with the people listening.”
“We can't let our guard down for an absolute second. We have to be vigilant and we're making that transition slowly. By no means are we reopening things up wide open like we did prior back and back in September.”