'Stay tuned': Ontario's top doctor hints new COVID-19 restrictions are coming
TORONTO -- A top Ontario official has hinted that new COVID-19 restrictions are on the way, telling people to "stay tuned" for an announcement as the province sets a new record for COVID-19 cases.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams made the comment on Thursday after being asked if stricter measures will be implemented to slow the spread of the disease.
"We have made recommendations up to the minister and onto the cabinet," Williams said. "It's up for their consideration. I would say stay tuned to see what announcements are going to be made."
Williams wouldn’t confirm whether the new restrictions could be aimed at indoor dining at bars and restaurants, something the city of Toronto has recently requested.
Dr. Eileen de Villa wrote an open letter to Williams earlier this month requesting a series of new restrictions that would be in place for the next 28 days and would essentially return Toronto to something more closely resembling the lockdown that was in place in the spring.
The recommendations made by de Villa in the letter include the suspension of indoor dining at bars and restaurants as well as the cancellation of all group fitness classes and sports activities that take place indoors.
She also recommended that "people only leave their homes for essential activities, such as work, education, exercise and fitness, healthcare appointments and the purchase of food."
The warning about new restrictions comes as health officials reported 797 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, breaking the previous high of 732 new cases reported on Oct. 2.
The daily number of COVID-19 infections has fluctuated over the last five days, moving back and forth between the 500s and 600s since the previous high.
Hospitalizations also crossed the 200-mark on Thursday. There are now 206 people in hospital receiving treatment for COVID-19 across the province, up from 195 on Wednesday.
Of those, 47 patients are in intensive care and 29 are breathing with the help of a ventilator.
"If we don't get a handle on this, we’re going to have to deal with more stringent measures," Williams said Thursday. "We don't want to face a lockdown."
Last week, Ontario announced it was putting a pause on social circles and asked people to only have close contact with their immediate household.
New restrictions were also put in place for restaurants in Ontario’s COVID-19 hotspots, which include Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa.
On Friday, sources confirmed to CP24 that Premier Doug Ford's cabinet will meet today to discuss the recommendations from public health officials.
The meeting is scheduled to take place between 11 and 11:30 a.m.