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Toronto, Peel to enter Stage 2 of reopening on Wednesday

Last Updated Jun 22, 2020 at 6:34 pm EDT

Toronto and Peel Region will be entering Stage 2 of reopening this Wednesday after over four months of the COVID-19 shutdown.

This includes the reopening of hair salons, indoor shopping malls and restaurant patios.

However, some Toronto restaurants and bars might need to wait a little longer.

The CafeTO proposal, which will allow eateries to expand their outdoor dining areas to help with physical distancing, will only be presented to city council for approval next week.

As of last Friday, the whole province was in Stage 2 except for Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex, which had consistently higher numbers of new daily cases.

Premier Ford says Windsor-Essex will remain in Stage 1 as the threat of the virus remains high and they have not met the required targets to enter Stage 2.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit says that 31 of their 32 new cases Monday come from the agri-farm sector.

Over the weekend, mobile testing units were sent out to farms in the area but Ford says farmers are not sending migrant workers to get tested.

He stressed that the lack of cooperation was not fair to the rest of the region.

“It’s very simple — we’ll send in the resources … the mobile units, but you can’t force someone to get tested,” he said, adding that they will keep trying but if nothing changes, they will have to “pull out other tools.”

“It’s just not fair, what you’re doing right now,” said Ford, addressing farmers. “Cooperate. We’ll bend over backwards to help you. I’m begging here for your support … to the people of Windsor and Essex – please cooperate,” pleaded Ford.

Watch: Ford blasts farmers as Windsor-Essex remains in Stage 1 of reopening

Ford also announced an investment of $15 million in an enhanced agro-food workplace program to purchase personal protective equipment for farm workers, modify housing and increase isolation capacity for those infected or exposed.

In addition, Minister Monte McNaughton said the provincial government will be working in collaboration with federal inspectors and local health officials to begin joint farm inspections, which are in addition to the 230 inspections already performed.

The new inspections will begin next week and will review living and working conditions of temporary foreign workers – a task usually under federal jurisdiction.

Two migrant workers have died in the region due to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic and the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is now reporting that a migrant worker in their area has died amid a farm outbreak there.

The farm currently has 199 infected migrant workers and 18 other people associated with the farm who tested positive for COVID-19, the health unit said.

Approximately 20,000 migrant workers come to Ontario each year to work on farms and in greenhouses — many of them from Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean — and this year were required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday the quarantine measures and protections for temporary foreign workers in the workplace were strong and “obviously” those rules were not followed in some cases.

“We’re extremely concerned by that and there will be consequences for companies that did not follow the rules,” he said.

“In Canada anyone doing work, let alone essential work as part of our food chain, needs to feel protected. Obviously, in the case of these three tragic deaths, that wasn’t the case. We are ensuring that changes are made and that there will be consequences.”

Hundreds of migrant workers have tested positive for COVID-19 in outbreaks at farms in Windsor-Essex, Haldimand-Norfolk, and Chatham-Kent.

Provincially, the number of resolved cases continues to grow more quickly than active ones.

The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 and those in intensive care and on ventilators all dropped, to the lowest levels since the province started publicly reporting them at the beginning of April.