With the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths increasing and evidence of public weariness with health restrictions growing, Premier Doug Ford announced stricter measures for the entire province starting December 26.
Additionally, the province reported that restrictions would remain in effect from January 9 to January 23 for all 27 public health unit regions in Southern Ontario which continue to record a high number of cases.
“Based on the latest modelling data, cases are expected to continue to grow, with multiple models predicting rates of at least 1,500 cases per day for several weeks under current restrictions. Daily mortality is also increasing,” the provincial report stated on a day where Ontario logged more than 2,100 cases.
During a press conference on Monday afternoon, Premier Ford told reporters that COVID-19 is “accelerating at an alarming rate” within the province.
“COVID is spreading rapidly from high outbreak areas to areas with fewer cases, and as it does our hospitals are filling up more each day and surgeries are being impacted”, said the Ontario Premier.
The premier also expressed concerns about reports of a new more infectious strain of COVID-19 that was seen in the United Kingdom.
According to Premier Ford, the temporary, province-wide shut down is a “difficult action (and) is no doubt necessary to save lives.” Premier Ford added that “thousands of lives are at stake right now,” and warning of “catastrophic consequences” if the province doesn’t act.
When asked why he wasn’t implementing stricter measures across Ontario immediately instead of waiting until Dec. 26, Premier Ford said the government wants to give small businesses time to prepare, and “the opportunity to get ready.”
It was also announced in the press conference that Premier Ford governments will be giving $12.5 million to help hard-hit communities in Durham, Peel, Toronto, York and Ottawa, as well as a new grant between $10,000 and $20,000 to help small businesses cope during the shutdown.
The province-wide lockdown will also essentially extend school closures for elementary and secondary school students, who will be learning from home starting January 4 to January 8, with all kids in Northern Ontario allowed to return to in-person learning on January 11.
Elsewhere in the province, elementary students can return to in-person classes on January 11 and high schoolers Jan. 25.
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