The Ontario government is introducing targeted public health measures to the areas of Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto for a minimum of 28 days.
The strategy is aimed at reducing the spread in high-transmission areas and protecting vulnerable populations. It said the new measures will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and reassessed after 28 days.
“In the last week, the pandemic has picked up speed at an alarming rate…all trends are going in the wrong direction, if left unchecked we risk worst-case scenarios first seen in Italy and New York City,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
“We’re seeing the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 rising, hospitalization rates are growing, and community outbreaks are entering our nursing homes and vulnerable congregate settings,” said Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams.
These trends prompted Ontario to impose further restrictions in COVID-19 hotspots. Effective Saturday, Oct. 10 at 12:01 a.m., Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto will be sent into a modified Stage 2 with the following measures included:
- Reducing limits for all social gatherings and public events to a maximum of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors where physically distancing can be maintained. These limits cannot be combined for indoor-outdoor events.
- Prohibiting indoor food and drink service in restaurants, bars, and other food establishments including nightclubs and food courts.
- Closing of:
- Indoor gyms and fitness centres
- Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
- Indoor cinemas, performing arts centres and venues
- Spectator areas in racing venues
- Interactive exhibits or exhibits with a high risk of personal contact in museums, galleries, landmarks, etc.
- Prohibiting personal care services where face coverings must be removed (e.g. makeup application, facial waxing, etc.)
- Reducing capacity limits for:
- Tour and guide services to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors
- Real estate open houses to 10 people indoors, where physical distancing can be maintained.
- In-person teaching and instruction (e.g. cooking class) to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, with exemptions for schools, child care centres, universities, colleges, etc.
- Meeting and event spaces to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors,
- Limiting team sports to training sessions (no games or scrimmages).
Schools, child care facilities, before-school and after-school programs, and places of worship will remain open.
Events like wedding receptions may also continue under the current public health rules until Oct. 13, at 12:01 a.m. After this time, the new gathering limits and health restrictions will apply.
“The curve is not just growing, it’s growing exponentially, numbers have increased significantly and we need to take actions now and do everything we can to avoid a very severe second wave,” said Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott.
Ford acknowledged that these health measure changes will be in the best interest of Ontario, but would come at a cost to small businesses, so Ontario has planned to make a $300 million investment to support affected businesses with taxes, hydro, and natural gas bill assistance.
“I know what this will do to businesses that are already struggling… I’ve been fighting for you since day one, and I’ll continue to fight for you…every one of us needs to rally around these small businesses. Please support them as much as possible. We can all play a part in supporting our restaurants through this difficult time,” said Ford.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health is also asking and urging all Ontarians to follow current health and safety guidelines. This includes limiting trips outside of the home and travel to other regions unless necessary, practicing physical distancing with people outside of your household, wearing face coverings, washing hands frequently, and following gathering limits.
“I’m asking everyone to make responsible decisions to keep you and your families safe this holiday. We must do everything we can to stop this surge and keep everyone safe and healthy. I assure you, we can get through this by supporting one another, by looking out for each other and by following the public health rules that keep us and our loved ones safe,” said Ford.