Ontario will lower the limits on social gatherings in a bid to stem a recent increase in COVID-19 cases but isn’t yet saying when the new health guidelines will be available. The current limit on social gatherings is 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he will be discussing the issue with his cabinet and will be talking with local mayors and medical officers before going ahead with the plan. “There’s going to be severe, severe fines” for those who choose not to follow the guidelines, he said, noting that details could come as soon as Thursday.
Provincial health officials have attributed the spike in cases largely to people not following public health guidelines at social gatherings. Ford has promised to take action in the regions where most of the cases have emerged — Toronto, Peel and Ottawa. He has also not ruled out further lockdowns in those areas if virus case numbers aren’t brought under control.
Ontario reported another 315 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday — more than half of which are in people under 40. In a series of tweets, Health Minister Christine Elliott said 64 per cent of Wednesday’s cases were in that age bracket.
At a news conference Wednesday, Ford announced the launch of a new interactive screening tool for students, parents and staff to help gauge whether or not to attend school each day. Ford was also asked Wednesday about a photo making the rounds on social media showing him and other elected officials at MPP Stan Cho’s wedding under a marquee tent, with some of the attendees not wearing masks. The premier maintained everyone present had their temperature taken and was wearing masks and that the photo in question was taken when people stood to welcome the bride and groom.