PARRY SOUND, ONT. -- Parry Sound's mayor wants the region out of lockdown after the province announced the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit would not return to the colour-coded framework until March 8.

The provincial government delayed the region from reopening over concerns about COVID-19 variant cases linked to an outbreak at a North Bay apartment building.

Parry Sound Mayor Jamie McGarvey said the areas should be separated.  "We're asking that we can have a different designation because it's open in Sudbury, and it's open south of us in Simcoe Muskoka."

The mayor noted the low case numbers. "We've got four cases in Parry Sound District."

Tracking the number of active COVID-19 cases in northeastern Ontario

Parry Sound and North Bay are connected through the health unit's boundaries.

"The issue seems to be in North Bay, which is an hour and a half from Parry Sound, and on a different corridor of traffic compared to this side of the district," McGarvey said in a recent interview with CP24.

Business owners are hopeful the mayor's request will be successful.

"[People] need to be able to come in and see what I have," said Near North Games store owner Mary Ellen Swan, who is restricted to curbside pickup only during the lockdown.

"Let's get the people - limited numbers - whatever it takes to get them into the stores so they can do some shopping and get these businesses to survive," the mayor added.

McGarvey said he requested the districts be separated last week with the health unit. However, the ultimate decision whether to separate health unit borders is up to the province, and to date, no such request has been granted.