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Premier Ford: Big fines coming for excessively large social gatherings

Last Updated Sep 17, 2020 at 6:20 am EDT

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, right, and Education Minister Stephen Lecce prepare for an announcement at Father Leo J. Austin Catholic Secondary School in Whitby, Ont., Thursday, July 30, 2020. The Ontario government is asking the province's school boards to try to spend $50 million to upgrade air quality in schools by Thanksgiving. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Summary

Premier Doug Ford says a decision to limit social gatherings is being addressed in a cabinet meeting.

Minister of Health Christine Elliott says the government is fully prepared for a second wave.

Ford announced a new interactive screening tool for parents and students, available on the government's website.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Ontario, queens park appears ready to crack down with lower crowd size limits and bigger fines.

Premier Doug Ford is meeting with his cabinet to discuss next steps to get the COVID-19 situation in the province’s hot spots under control.

As reported on 680 NEWS, Ford acknowledged it’s possible gathering limits will be reduced for Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa and says he’s spoken to the mayors in each of those hot spots.

“We’re usually, 99.9 percent of the time, all on the same page when we’re all agreeing on policies and guidelines to be put in place, we act quickly,” Ford said at his daily, COVID-19 briefing.

“Yes, there will be fines. I’ll give you the number, hopefully tomorrow (Thursday), but there’s going to be some severe, severe fines for people that ignore the regulations and guidelines. It’s going to be the highest in the country.”

The Premier says the fines will be under provincial jurisdiction so the province can follow through and not have to rely on the feds for enforcement.

Ford was also questioned after it was confirmed that the Premier attended MP Stan Cho’s wedding, leading to many calling his message to crack down on social gatherings hypocritical.

“That wedding, all the protocols were followed. Every single person in that room wore a mask,” Ford said.

“A very small percentage of the population is ignoring them (physical distancing protocols). Anytime I’m with someone, I always make sure we maintain a six-foot distance with anyone.”

 

Public health officials can’t trace how roughly half of the province’s latest COVID-19 cases got infected, even as Ford prepares fresh measures to try to slow the pace of spread.

To gain insights into the September surge of COVID-19 in Canada’s largest province, CBC News has analyzed Ontario’s data on active cases — those who have most recently tested positive for the virus and are either hospitalized or still considered to be infectious.

This gives a clearer picture of current trends that can’t always be spotted in the province’s daily release of COVID-19 numbers.

Of the more than 2,300 currently active cases in Ontario, the suspected method of exposure for 54 per cent of cases is either unknown, missing or labelled as “no epidemiological link,” which means it’s being spread in the community.

More than one-third of active cases are among people in their 20s, even though that age group makes up only 14 per cent of the province’s population.

More than half of active cases are in just two public health units — Toronto and Peel region.

The data suggests that many Ontarians are currently contracting COVID-19 through unmemorable interactions with others in the course of their daily lives. experts are worried that failing to track the source of so many new infections will hamper efforts to rein in the spread of the virus.

Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, says the Ford government is more than prepared for a second wave, especially when it comes to testing and hospital capacity.

Ontario is reporting 315 new infections on Wednesday. Toronto confirmed 77 new COVID-19 cases, with 61 in Ottawa and 54 in Peel.

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