Peel, alongside neighbouring regions, are awaiting Doug Ford’s decision Friday on a potential shutdown as the region’s top health official reviews the additional restrictions set in place earlier this month.
But it may be reaffirming what the region, consisting of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon, are already trying to do. An area in Brampton, a city of about 603,000 people, has the highest infection rate at more than 20 per cent, according to research by the non-profit Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.
Indeed, the next two worst-hit areas in the province are in Mississauga with positivity rates of 18.6 and 18.5 per cent.
Dr. Lawrence Loh, the medical officer of health for Peel Region, said Nov. 7 the region would again tighten restrictions to combat COVID-19.
The move came after Peel continued to have the highest growing number of cases in Ontario.
“Our public health and healthcare in Peel are at capacity, beyond capacity,” Loh said at a news conference on Nov. 9. “That means we must take additional action to get COVID-19 under control in Peel.”
Instructions were released on additional guidelines that now apply to Peel.
Any large celebratory gatherings in business establishments have been stopped until further notice. Gym and fitness centres are closed. Meeting and event spaces have also been closed.
Seating groups in restaurants must be limited to groups of people from the same family, and places of worship have been reduced to 50 people in attendance and encouraged to go online.
Wedding receptions are on hold until at least Jan. 7, 2021.
“We have seen dozens of wedding exposures and outbreaks that have driven our case counts, including one wedding in York Region, which saw 33 of our residents infected,” Loh said.
Lindsay Rodgers was planning on getting married in Peel in April 2021. She has been planning her wedding since her engagement in 2019.
“I’m a little disappointed. I did plan things around the venue in 2019. But everything happens for a reason and I always go by that,” Rodgers said.
The new Peel regulations have caused her to re-book vendors and venue for the third time. Despite her wedding being planned for after the new Peel regulations end date, she didn’t want to take any risks if the regulations changed or were extended.
“Peel has always been so far behind, I don’t want to take that chance and miss out on planning my dream wedding,” Rodgers said.
The regulations have not only affected events but residents’ daily lives as well.
Michelle Makuch, a second-year Graphic Design student at Humber, who lives and works in Mississauga, said she’s finding the restrictions difficult.
“It’s hard because before at least I was able to see my aunt and uncle, but now I can’t even see them,” Makuch said.
Makuch is a territory sales manager for TCL. She goes to malls and stores around Brampton and Mississauga for sales. Despite the new restrictions, these locations are still open.
“I go to Square One for work, and there are arrows on the ground. I swear they’re for decoration, no one’s following them. People try to squeeze by me in the halls. It’s still crazy busy especially on weekends,” she said.
Although Peel Region has tightened restrictions, the regions around them have yet to follow suit.
“If I, say, wanted to go get dinner, I could drive 10 minutes to Oakville and things are open. People just sign up to gyms in cities a few minutes away and go there instead,” Makuch said.
Peel Region will be reassessing regulations in the coming weeks and adjusting according to case numbers.