Toronto’s top doctor says variants, case numbers make reopening risky

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Toronto’s top doctor says now is not the time to prepare to ease pandemic restrictions in the city.

Dr. Eileen De Villa says the concerning presence of new, more infectious variants of COVID-19 signals a transition to a “new pandemic.”

She says it’s likely that cases will increase when restrictions are loosened, particularly if the variants become the dominant strains.

Her comments come as the Ontario government says a stay-at-home order for Toronto and two neighbouring hot spots will lift on Feb. 22.

The province is letting a state of emergency expire as scheduled on Tuesday and will gradually transition regions back to its colour-coded restrictions system.

Toronto, Peel Region and York Region will be the last to be moved to the system this month, although the province has said an increase in cases could change that plan.