Ontario will implement more Covid-19 restrictions soon, with a focus on the worst-hit areas as a deadlier strain of coronavirus cuts through Canada’s most populous province.
The new measures will aim to slow the spread of the virus in Toronto and the suburban Peel and York regions, which account for about 60% of new infections, Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford said at a press conference on Tuesday. . Details will be released on Wednesday, he said.
“We made a massive move last week by basically shutting down the entire province,” Ford said. “We are going to have more restrictions moving very quickly.”
Ontario’s cabinet will meet this afternoon to discuss options, including the possibility of a new stay-at-home order, CTV News reported, citing sources.
Efforts to quell the latest increase will target large employers and residents in the virus hot spots, Ford said Tuesday. Last month, the Peel region ordered Amazon.com Inc. shutting down a warehouse for two weeks because the infection rate was increasing significantly.
Local health authorities have been increasingly ahead of Ford’s efforts to contain the virus, especially in education. On On Tuesday, Toronto Public Health followed the Peel and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph regions closing schools to in-person learning through April 18. Ford has resisted allowing students to return to remote learning, saying they are safer in schools.
Ontario reported 3,065 new cases and eight deaths on Tuesday. The main variant The spread in Ontario, known as B.1.1.7, is 50% more deadly than previous strains, authorities said. The province is moving into a second phase of its vaccination campaign, which includes inoculating essential workers who cannot work from home, people with high-risk health conditions, and communities that have been disproportionately affected by the virus.
Ford imposed stricter measures in Ontario last week, although it did not comply with a stay-at-home order. The restaurants, which had been allowed to reopen for alfresco dining only a week earlier, were restricted to take-out and delivery. Supermarkets and pharmacies were ordered to operate at 50% capacity, and other retailers were asked to reduce it to 25%.
“It’s changing from day to day, hour to hour, and we must be prepared to adapt as we see problems arise,” Ford said Tuesday.
In neighboring Quebec, the government also tightened recently relaxed restrictions on schools and gymnasiums in Montreal and some other regions.
The measure is preventive, anticipating variant cases to increase, Prime Minister Francois Legault said Tuesday.
“April will be the month of all dangers,” he said.
Canada has fully inoculated 2.7% of its population, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker, and it is vaccinating at a slower rate than its neighbor the US.
– With the assistance of Sandrine Rastello
(Updates with Quebec policy changes in paragraph 11)