Ontario premier says he will announce new COVID-19 measures later this week
TORONTO -- Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he expects to announce new measures “in the coming days” to help curb the spread of COVID-19 amid a rising number of infections and deaths.
Speaking at Queen’s Park on Wednesday, the premier said the continued rise in COVID-19 cases in the province’s hot spots of Toronto, Peel Region and York Region is “extremely troubling.”
“The virus is spreading at an alarming rate in these areas and I can’t stress this enough, the situation is extremely, extremely serious,” Ford said. “Right now, we're staring down the barrel of another lockdown in these regions.”
“Last week, I asked the chief medical officer of health to come back with recommendations on what we need to do to flatten the curve in the second wave. We expect the measures to be discussed at cabinet and announced in the coming days.”
Ford hinted the announcement will come on Friday and is expected to target COVID-19 hot spots only.
The premier did not say what the new measures would entail, but also did not rule out a possible shutdown, saying that “he won’t hesitate to lock things down” for the safety of the public.
The regions of Hamilton, Halton, Peel, Toronto and York are currently in the “red” zone, the fourth tier in Ontario’s five-tier plan outlining COVID-19 restrictions.
The “red” zone is the final step before a complete lockdown.
All five regions have recently struggled to curb the spread of COVID-19.
On Wednesday, 410 new infections were reported in Toronto, 463 in Peel Region, 187 in York Region, 63 in Halton Region and 54 in Hamilton.
Speaking on Wednesday afternoon, Toronto's mayor and top doctor said they have submitted recommendations to the province and expect to hear back "soon." However, neither would provide any details regarding their recommendations.
"I hope they complete their deliberations as soon as possible because I think the time for action is now," Toronto Mayor John Tory said.
"I will just say that, without getting into the details, (the province has) a very complete understanding, I think, of what we think is necessary for Toronto and what we think should be done and if they choose to go in a different direction we will have to consider what we can do on our own to try and improve the numbers in Toronto, which are deeply troubling"
The premier said that in the meantime, residents should continue to be vigilant and not have large gatherings.
“Do not have birthday parties. Do not have sleepovers, having kids friends over, it’s dangerous and it has to stop. We are looking at lockdown if this continues in Peel, Toronto and York. I keep saying it.”
“The hospitals, especially around Brampton and northern Etobicoke and other areas around Toronto, they are hitting capacity. So, we need to be responsible.”
The news comes as the province logged 32 deaths on Wednesday, the highest number of daily-recorded deaths since the second wave of the pandemic began. Health officials also reported 1,417 new cases of COVID-19 across the province.
The total number of lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario now stands at 98,162, including 3,415 deaths and 81,925 recoveries.