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:
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:
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.