Ontario not considering a curfew but new COVID-19 lockdown restrictions will be announced Tuesday
TORONTO -- The Ontario government is not considering a curfew for the province but will announce stricter lockdown restrictions on Tuesday in response to the escalating COVID-19 crisis.
Senior government sources told CTV News Toronto on Monday that cabinet will not consider implementing a curfew after public health officials discounted it.
Arriving at Queen's Park on Monday morning, Premier Doug Ford said that his cabinet will review new COVID-19 lockdown measures today and that they will be announced publicly tomorrow.
"Well, we worked all weekend, right until late hours last night, we'll be going to cabinet with recommendations tonight and we will make an announcement tomorrow," he said.
Last week, Ford issued a dire warning to the province about the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, saying that “extreme measures” will be needed to bring down the number of new infections. The government has not indicated what any of those measures could be.
CTV News Toronto has learned Ford is considering whether to declare a second provincial state of emergency. The sources said that invoking a state of emergency is under active consideration as the premier meets with his cabinet. It would give the government the power to enact new measures beyond the current province-wide lockdown.
Along with announcing new restrictions on Tuesday, the government will also release new COVID-19 modelling, which Ford said last week will make people "fall of their chair."
"This is the most serious situation we’ve ever been in since the beginning of the pandemic," Ford said Friday. "This is getting out of control and we have to do whatever it takes."
Ontario Vaccine Distribution Task Force member and epidemiologist Dr. Isaac Bogoch told CP24 on Monday morning the provincial modelling that will be released on Tuesday shows daily case growth could reach 6,000 new infections per day by Jan. 30 without further public health measures.
The government had previously said that a curfew for the province was on the table if health officials deemed it necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Quebec issued a curfew this weekend, requiring almost all residents to be in their homes from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. each night.
The province said residents will be required to provide proof of what they're doing if they are found outside of the house after curfew. A note from an employer, a receipt from a drug store, or a hospital card are just some examples of what the government will accept as evidence of an essential trip.
Meanwhile, Toronto Mayor John Tory said for the first time on Monday he could support a curfew as part of the new effort, but urged the province to consider narrowing the list of businesses deemed essential to keep more people at home.
"I don't rule a curfew out, but I really question whether it will be the most effective. If you have a curfew, can we enforce it?" Tory told CP24 on Monday.
"If you said to me that short of a curfew you had to put more hours of restrictions on when you could get food, I would be perfectly comfortable with that," he said.
All of Ontario is currently under a province-wide lockdown, which requires nearly all non-essential businesses to stay closed.
The lockdown will remain in effect until Jan. 23, although Ford hinted last week that if COVID-19 case numbers don't come down it could be extended.
The growing number of new cases also prompted the government to extend the closure of in-person learning in the southern part of the province.
Students in southern Ontario won't return to class until Jan. 25, and will instead participate in virtual learning.
Health officials logged 3,338 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, marking a decrease from the record-breaking 3,945 infections the previous day.
Officials also recorded 29 additional deaths related to the disease, bringing the COVID-19 death toll in Ontario to 5,012.
Meanwhile, Tory repeated on Monday what he has said since December, that Ontario needed to undergo a second full lockdown, similar to what was done in the spring, in order to get COVID-19 spread under control.
"I think we need to go through a period where pretty much everything is closed like the spring. I wasn’t happy but we got through it and it worked because people stayed home because everything was closed."
With files from CTV News Toronto's Colin D'Mello and CP24's Chris Herhalt