Earlier this week, the Grey Bruce Health Unit (GBHU) moved into the green zone of the province’s reopening framework. At the same time, Collingwood’s restrictions were heightened to the grey-lockdown zone.
The vast difference in restrictions between the two neighbouring communities has raised some questions about the logic behind the shift.
“Changing the colour zones is not related to the locality of one town to another or the discrepancy between the red and the green and one area,” said Dr. Ian Arra, medical officer of health for GBHU.
Arra explained that moving a region between the varying colour-coded zones is a provincial decision based on data points related to epidemiology, such as case count, per cent positivity, hospital and ICU capacity.
“The chief (medical officer of health) will ask each MOH about the situation on the ground – where we see the region going. So, we have some input but the decision is absolutely provincial,” Arra said.
Arra added the data set the province looks at to make its decision is essentially from three weeks prior to the shift.
“So right now, if you go back two weeks, then the week before those two weeks, that's the set of data that is used,” he said.
Arra added that he cannot comment on the specifics taking place in Simcoe County, as every health unit manages its own caseload and epidemiology data sets, but said in Grey-Bruce he has been confident with the decisions that are being made on a provincial level.
“I don't know all the details that go there that led to the decision, but I know first-hand from dealing with provincial officials on a weekly basis or sometimes daily basis, I know that they're doing really a fine job. I can't comment on their decisions, but I can comment from my experience that they're doing a great job,” Arra said.
However, Collingwood’s town council may beg to differ.
At a meeting held this week, Collingwood council passed a motion that calls on the province to change the town's lockdown designation.
Collingwood Mayor Brian Saunderson said the stark difference between restrictions in the two neighbouring municipalities is “unconscionable.”
“We’ve got two halves of a large economic engine that are now at opposite ends of the spectrum,” said the mayor.
The Town of the Blue Mountains Mayor, Alar Soever said while he sympathizes with the situation Collingwood is in, he would prefer to keep politics out of the conversation when it comes to COVID-19 as he believes politicians should not make or influence decisions about public health.
“I don't think what zone you're in should be a political decision. There are criteria that are based on case counts and where the transmission is happening. I would leave any and all of these decisions to the health professionals,” Soever said.