Premier Doug Ford has announced Toronto, Peel Region and North Bay-Parry Sound will remain under the stay-at-home order until March 8.
Both Toronto and Peel had asked to be kept under the strict pandemic restrictions for an additional two weeks.
“I’ve been unwavering when it comes to supporting our local health officials,” said Ford in a press conference on Friday.
Meanwhile, York Region will be moving into the province’s colour-coded framework under the red zone on Feb. 22 at 12:01 a.m.
A release from the province said while Toronto and Peel had seen a reduction in COVID-19 transmission, the rates remain to high in both regions, at 83.4 cases per 100,000 in Peel and 67.9 cases per 100,000 in Toronto, both above the provincial average.
In North Bay-Parry Sound, the case rate has increases by 11.5 per cent over the last two weeks to 14.6 cases per 100,00 people and variants of concern still remain a serious risk.
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said COVID-19 variants of concern could lead to “exponential spread” in the region when she asked for the two-week extension of the stay-at-home order.
In York Region, the medical officer of health said his community is ready to see an easing of the strictest measures and requested to be put in the red zone, the second-strictest category of the province’s tiered restrictions system.
Dr. Karim Kurji said his public health unit is concerned about the mental health and economic impacts of the lockdown. He added that public health authorities are still asking people to say home except for essential trips.
Meanwhile the Canadian Federation of Independent Business criticized the province’s decision to keep the areas under the stay-at-home order, saying moving to the framework would have only allowed small retailers to reopen their doors.
“Being asked to just hang in there a little longer is an unacceptable and downright insulting,” said President Dan Kelley on Twitter. “We call on the Ontario government to reverse course and keep its commitment to reopen small retailers immediately in Toronto, Peel and North Bay.”
Ontario also recently extended the emergency orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario Act until March 21.