Ontario’s Premier says added restrictions are on the horizon, perhaps as early as Wednesday, admitting that the recently imposed “emergency brake” may not be enough to contain the third wave.
“We’re going to have further restrictions moving forward very, very quickly,” a frustrated Doug Ford said on Tuesday, hours after the province released a revised COVID-19 vaccine timeline.
“We have to focus on where we see the problem. Three regions – York, Peel, and Toronto represent 60 percent of the COVID cases.”
Ford stopped short of what these restrictions would look like but did express discontentment after seeing GTA malls, such as Yorkdale, flooded with people this past weekend.
“Going to the malls is not essential,” the Premier said. “When you have an inferno going on somewhere, you have to turn the hoses there. You have to turn attention on the whole province, but we’re really focusing on the hot areas.”
Videos of crowds at Yorkdale Mall went viral after it showed hundreds of people packed inside to shop during Easter weekend.
Ford says officials will send mobile units into COVID-19 hotspots and to companies to ensure that they “target these businesses.”
The Premier is also pleading with people to stay home but is still holding back on enacting a stay-at-home order.
“What I saw, what a lot of people saw, you go by Yorkdale and you couldn’t get a parking space,” said Ford.
“It was absolutely jam-packed and I truly was hoping that people wouldn’t be going in there at the volume that we saw.”
This comes after medical officers of health in Toronto, Peel and Ottawa called on the province to reinforce a stay-at-home order to protect their residents, saying the recently imposed “shutdown” is not enough to contain a growing spread in and across Ontario.
Dr. Eileen de Villa, Dr. Lawrence Loh, and Ottawa’s Dr. Vera Etches said that given the rapid deterioration in local indicators across the three public health units, more is required to reverse the surge in COVID-19 numbers.
Public health restrictions have tightened across Ontario as of Saturday with the province now under what it calls a “shutdown” but allows some businesses, including malls, to stay open.
These current restrictions will be in place for at least four weeks and force some non-essential services to close, including in-person dining and personal care services such as barbers, nail salons, and gyms.
The lockdown, similar to current restrictions under the grey zone, has essential stores – such as groceries and pharmacies – open at 50 percent capacity.
Non-essential retail can operate at 25 percent capacity.
In a letter issued to Dr. David Williams, the three top doctors are urging the cabinet to review businesses currently defined as essential, implement staffing limits of not more than 50 percent, and impose travel restrictions between regions within Ontario.
The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) issued a statement on Monday, saying provincial doctors are concerned that we are entering the worst phase of the pandemic since last spring and urge everyone – all levels of government and every Ontarian – to take the warning seriously.