With Ontario’s daily COVID-19 cases reaching a new record high of 939 on Friday, Premier Doug Ford’s government says virus hotspots Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa, will go back to some of the tight restrictions imposed during Stage 2 of the pandemic for a minimum of 28 days.
The new restrictions (full list below) will go into effect as of Saturday, October 10, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., and include limiting social gatherings to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors, prohibiting indoor dining and drinking at bars, restaurants, nightclubs and food courts, and closing all gyms, cinemas and casinos.
Schools and places of worship will remain open.
Watch: Ford announces restrictions for Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa
In an afternoon update, Ford said he made the “painful decision” to implement new restrictions after consulting with medical officials.
“I didn’t sleep last night, believe me this weighs heavy on me to make this decision,” he said.
“Last night our top doctors and health experts presented me with brand new data … and outlined the justification for new restrictions in hotspot regions.”
“All trends are going in the wrong direction, left unchecked we risk worst-case scenarios,” he added.
Ford said if current trends continue, Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admissions could triple over the next 30 days.
“Our hospitals will be overwhelmed and we can’t allow this to happen,” he stressed.
Ford said he knows how harmful the restrictions can be for businesses, and vowed to “fight” for them in any way possible, announcing more funding for impacted businesses.
“I’ve directed my finance minister to make $300 million available to support affected businesses over the next 28 days,” added Ford “This will include waiving provincial and property tax bills as well as hydro and natural gas bills.”
The reversion to some Stage 2 measures comes after Ontario recorded back-to-back days of record-breaking daily COVID-19 cases, with 797 cases reported Thursday and 939 on Friday.
Friday’s numbers are in line with recent modelling that projected around 1,000 new cases a day in Ontario by mid-October.
Toronto Mayor John Tory seemed receptive to further restrictions when asked about the surging cases on Friday morning.
“We need to make changes,” Tory said. “You cannot just look at these numbers … and say to yourself that what’s going on is good enough. We have to do more.”
Toronto’s top doctor Dr. Eileen De Villa has urged the province to enact further restrictions in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the city.
Watch the province’s full announcement below.