TORONTO -- Ontario has announced that overnight camps will not be permitted to operate this summer due to COVID-19, but plans to open day camps are underway. 

Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce made the announcement at a news conference Tuesday, where they announced that schools will remain closed until September. 

“Unfortunately, we just can’t have camps with 500 kids living together right now,” Ford said. “I know that this will be tough for many kids who look forward to their overnight camps.” 

The premier added that if the pandemic situation continues to improve and cases continue to drop then summer day camps, both indoor and outdoor, may be permitted in July and August.

The government says that “strict health and safety guidelines” will be developed for the day camps.

“This is all dependent on the health table and July and August and we’re going to have strict protocol in place to make sure that the kids are safe because if I don’t feel they’re safe, we just aren’t going to bother opening them up,” Ford said.

“It’s also jurisdiction by jurisdiction [and] up to the local public health doctor to make that call as well. We’re going to make sure the number one priority is to take care of the kids … if the numbers aren’t there, we won’t hesitate to close it down.”

Last week, Toronto Mayor John Tory said that although the city's regular summer camp program will be cancelled, staff are working on a plan for a "modified recreation program" that could be offered for a smaller number of children starting as early as mid-July.

“This would be subject to two important conditions. First, we must see continued improvement beyond where we are today in the COVID-19 public health numbers for Toronto,” Tory said at a news conference Friday. “Second, the provincial order, which would at present preclude such programs, would have to be modified or lifted.”

The city said the modified camps would “incorporate public health measures designed to reduce the risk of virus spread, including physical distancing, smaller group sizes, daily health assessments and more extensive cleaning and hygiene measures.”

If permitted to operate, the modified program, called CampTO, would provide 5,300 camp spaces per week for children ages six to 12, which represents 50 per cent of the typical city-run camp capacity, officials said