The Opposition NDP says Premier Scott Moe's government needs to come out with a plan on how to deal with the threat of more contagious COVID-19 variants.
The government also made a decision to maintain the stay-at-home order for the North Bay, Ont., area - which has seen a spike in variants of COVID-19 - while loosening restrictions for York Region, which had sought the removal of the strictest measures.
"With today's announcement of extended lockdowns for Toronto, Peel and North Bay until at least March 8, the Ontario government has once again chosen to use small business as cannon fodder, renewing its reputation as the least small business-friendly government in the country during the pandemic", Dan Kelly, President and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB), said in a statement.
York Region will move to the colour-tiered framework as of Monday, Feb. 22. "Until vaccines are widely available, we continue to urge all Ontarians to follow public health advice and measures, and stay home, stay safe, and save lives".
The government has been moving ahead with its economic reopening despite warnings it could set off a third wave of infections.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said almost 65,400 tests were completed, and 518,834 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered.
Toronto listed 376 daily cases Thursday while Peel Region logged 264 cases and York 108 cases. Every other region is staying at the same level for at least another week, including Southwester Public Health.
Syringe shortage hampers Japan's COVID-19 vaccination roll out
More than 14 million Britons have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine so far, and uptake stands at around 90 per cent. Studies have also indicated that the vaccines supplied by the two companies are, on average, 94% effective against the virus.
While officials in an earlier technical briefing said some shots could start getting into the arms of those seniors this month in some areas, Hillier said the province is anticipating that it will happen in the middle of March.
"Protecting our progress and limiting the impact of variants of concern will require stronger action".
It's the second straight day more than 1,000 cases have been confirmed after several days of lower cases counts that were likely under-reported due to data migration issues at Toronto Public Health.
The government also announced that Lambton Public Health will move from the orange zone to the red zone "as a result worsening public health trends in the region over the past week". The region's top doctor said COVID-19 cases doubled last week compared with the previous week, with many linked to institutional outbreaks.
And though the initial bookings for appointments, especially in this next phase, will be done by phone, the province is developing an online booking system and customer service desk to help with appointments and challenges. The federal government expects to get 6 million Pfizer and Moderna doses before the end of March and 23 million more in April, May and June and 55 million in the three months after that.
The supply increase will coincide with an expected expansion of Ontario's vaccine rollout to target the 80 and older group, seniors in congregate care, and all Indigenous adults.
60%: The percentage of Ottawa retirement home residents who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.