With Toronto and Peel in lockdown, concerns of cross-border travel rise in nearby regions
TORONTO -- With Toronto and Peel Region currently under a lockdown, some municipal leaders and small business owners in nearby municipalities are expressing concern about a potential influx of non-residents.
Wanada Nippard owns the Shrimp Cocktail restaurant in Oshawa and is only accepting reservations from customers who live in Durham Region.
“With the lockdown in Toronto and Peel, if we’re letting people there come in, we feel like we’re jeopardizing our own community,” Nippard, who has been fielding calls daily from people living in Toronto and Mississauga, said.
Nippard is requiring all customers to provide identification, proving they live in Durham Region when they arrive at her King Street restaurant.
“We’re worried about our numbers rising as well,” Nippard said, adding she is concerned that Durham Region could be placed in lockdown if COVID-19 cases suddenly surge.
“For us, it’s a worry about being able to sustain, with the high rent, high hydro still there, fixed operating costs and laying off staff.”
Durham Region entered the province’s “red zone” on Monday. The local health unit is reporting 428 active COVID-19 cases across the region as of Tuesday.
Oshawa’s mayor said he has not yet heard of any problems of people migrating from Toronto and Peel to shop at businesses in his city, but is calling on those residents to stay local.
“We’re hoping people accept the boundaries – understanding that we have different circumstances in different regions,” Mayor Dan Carter said.
Carter acknowledges municipalities don’t have the authority to stop non-residents from crossing municipal borders.
“We’re trying to make sure we don’t get into a complete lockdown,” he said. “Small businesses are trying to get through this as best as they can and having another set of restrictions is a real concern.”
Courtney Wilton runs a beauty bar in Oshawa and is bracing for residents from Toronto to book appointments. She already has clients from Scarborough, but has made the difficult decision not to serve them while the lockdown is in effect.
“We don’t know their history and they are in a higher area of risk and that would put our other clients’ health and safety at risk,” Wilton said. “Another lockdown is the worst case scenario for us.”
The Mayor of Halton Hills is also requesting residents from Toronto and Peel to refrain from travelling to his municipality while the 28 day lockdown is in effect.
“I am not going to say that our local borders are shut. This is way above my authority and that of council,” Mayor Rick Bonnette said in a statement. “I remind people that wherever you live, to please adhere to the health and safety protocols as set out by the Minister of Health and this means stay home as much as you can. I do not want to see Halton Hills in lockdown which would be devastating to local businesses, sports and leisure activities.”
Regarding fitness centres, GoodLife has said it is asking its members from Peel and Toronto to not visit other facilities in regions outside of their own for the time being.
"We are committed to following the government guidelines as closely as we can to support the safety of our members, associates and all communities," a statement reads. "GoodLife wants to do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure the temporary closure mandate can be lifted in the near future."