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Faced with COVID’s Second Wave, Premier Ford Re-Imposes Restrictions in Hot Spots

Published on
October 9, 2020

Yesterday, Ontario experienced its highest daily case count, at well over 700. This morning, Ontarians woke up to rumours the daily COVID case count was even higher – over 900. At 10 am, the rumours were confirmed and today’s official case count – 939 – revealed.

With these rapidly escalating numbers and other “alarming public health trends” regarding hospital admissions, cases in long-term care facilities and the very high positive test rate in certain communities, a visibly shaken Premier announced this afternoon that Ontario’s main hotspots of Ottawa, Peel and Toronto will be moving to a modified version of Stage 2 for at least the next 28 days. Effective 12:01 am tomorrow, the following measures come into effect:

  • Reduced limits for all social gatherings and organized public events to a maximum of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors (where physical distancing can be maintained). These limits cannot be combined for an indoor-outdoor event;
  • Prohibiting indoor food and drink service in restaurants, bars, and other relevant businesses such as nightclubs and food court areas in malls;
  • The closure of: indoor cinemas; indoor gyms and fitness centres; casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments; performing arts centres and venues; spectator areas in racing venues; personal care services that require the removal of a face covering; and interactive exhibits or similar exhibits at museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks and similar establishments;
  • Reducing capacity limits to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors for real estate open houses; tour and guide services; in-person teaching and instruction (but not schools, child care facilities, colleges or universities); and meeting and event spaces;
  • Limiting team sports to training sessions (i.e. no games or scrimmages).

The Province stressed schools, religious establishments and child care centres will remain open in these communities.

In addition, the Chief Medical Officer of Health is asking all Ontarians to:

  • Limit trips outside of home, except for essential purposes only such as work (where it is not possible to work from home), school, grocery shopping, medical appointments, and outdoor healthy physical activity. In addition, travel to other regions in the province, especially from higher transmission to lower transmission areas, should only be for essential purposes;
  • Practise physical distancing of at least two metres with those outside your household;
  • Wear a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so; and
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly; and following gathering limits and rules.

Recognizing the significant financial impact such measures will have on the affected businesses, the Premier also announced a $300M fund to help affected businesses with their fixed costs, such as property taxes, hydro and natural gas bills. Such relief will be made available to businesses in any region of the province where similar public health measures must be implemented. Exact details for this fund will be available in the coming days. This Ontario fund is meant to work in conjunction with the support programs announced this morning by the federal government. A separate update from the federal team will be coming out tonight and will provide greater details on these programs.

What It Means

Ontario very clearly is in the midst of COVID-19’s second wave. It became critical for the province to impose new public health restrictions – and fast. As the Premier has made clear throughout, government interventions will be targeted and regional, which is why it is only Ottawa, Peel and Toronto where such measures are being imposed right now.

That being said, the possibility of the same or similar measures being imposed in other parts of the province remains high if these measures aren’t successful in flattening the curve.

At today’s press conference, the Premier was visibly troubled by having to impose these restrictions, calling them the most difficult decision he’s had to make as Premier. Through the $300M fund, the Premier is making good on his promise to support affected businesses.

As we move into the colder weather, we’re going to become more familiar with terms like flattening the curve, which we hadn’t been concerned with for some months. It is time for Ontarians to come together again to make sure we keep each other safe and get the pandemic back under control.

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