Amid mounting pressure from medical professionals to tighten restrictions before it's too late, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced several new measures on Friday aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19.
"As the number of new cases continues to rise, the province is taking decisive action to prevent and stop the spread of the virus and avoid future lockdown," reads a release from the provincial government detailing the new rules, issued just hours after confirming a new all-time high daily increase rate of 732 cases.
The new measures, adopted through an amendment to Stage 3 reopening regulations, include "mandating the use of face coverings in all public indoor settings across the province, such as businesses, facilities and workplaces, with limited exemptions, including corrections and developmental services."
Like Toronto residents have been doing since July 7, when the city's own mandatory mask bylaw came into effect, everyone in Ontario must don appropriate non-medical facial coverings when visiting indoor public spaces as of tomorrow.
The amendments come into effect on Saturday, Oct. 4, as of 12:01 a.m. and also include:
- Extending the pause on any further reopening of businesses, facilities, and organizations for an additional 28 days, unless already permitted to open under O. Reg 364/20;
- Pausing social circles and advising that all Ontarians allow close contact only with people living in their own household and maintain two metres physical distancing from everyone else. Individuals who live alone may consider having close contact with another household; and
- Finalizing additional guidance for seniors (70 and over) on how to minimize their risk of acquiring COVID-19, including for upcoming annual gatherings such as Thanksgiving and Remembrance Day.
Additional restrictions will come into effect for the Toronto, Peel and Ottawa Regions, specifically, given their "higher than average rates of transmission."
With the exception of Toronto, which is already lowering the number of patrons allowed in one establishment to 75 as of Oct. 8., the rules include:
- Setting an indoor capacity limit to restrict occupancy at restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments (including nightclubs) to the number of patrons who can maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other patron, to a maximum of 100 patrons, permitting no more than six patrons per table, requiring operators to ensure patrons lining up or congregating outside of their establishment maintain physical distancing, and mandating that the name and contact information for each patron be collected;
- Restricting group exercise classes at gyms and other fitness settings to 10 individuals, as well as restricting the total number of people allowed at these facilities to a maximum of 50; and
- Setting a limit on the number of people allowed at meeting and event facilities, including banquet halls, to six people per table and 50 people per facility.
"With Ontario's recent alarming growth in the number of COVID-19 cases, our government is taking further action to help stop the spread of the virus and avoid future lockdowns," said Ontario's Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, of the restrictions.
"These are difficult, but necessary decisions that are being made to keep people safe, especially our seniors and vulnerable citizens. Everyone must follow the public health guidelines if we are going to stop the spread and contain the second wave."
by Lauren O'Neil via blogTO