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Doug Ford says he'll lock Ontario down again if COVID-19 numbers keep going up

Don't get used to a life with less restrictions under Stage 1 of Ontario's economic reopening plan: If cases of COVID-19 keep rising as they have in recent days, we'll be right back to lockdown mode before long.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford pledged during his regular media availability on Thursday afternoon that he would immediately roll permissions back for retail stores, recreational spaces and the public at large should his health team say it's necessary to slow the spread of the virus.

"I won't hesitate to do that if the numbers continue to go up," said Ford when asked if he'd consider going back to where we were a few weeks ago or putting even further restrictions in place. "I'm relying on our chief medical officer and the health table to give me that advice."

"We've seen it go up over the last, I think it's five days now… the numbers haven't been there so that's concerning," said the premier.

"I'd understand it if we were testing 25,000 people or 20,000 [per day]... numbers creep up but per capita it's down. That's not the case right now."

Indeed, COVID-19 testing rates have fallen steeply in recent days, prompting Ford during his briefing today to once again pledge he'd tackle the issue head-on, going so far as to promise a plan for mass, asymptomatic testing as early as next week.

The premier once again expressed his concern for the recent uptick in new case numbers per day when asked if there were any set criteria in place for halting Stage 1 at this point.

"Well we've seen an escalation go continually up. We've seen it for the last few days," he said. "It hasn't been huge but it has gone up and it's concerning... I can't give you an exact figure but we're going to keep an eye on it. I'm watching it like a hawk."

Ontario Minister of Health Christine Elliot spoke to the issue as well, stating that it's too soon to tell whether or not the recent increase in new case numbers is related to the province entering Stage 1, which only happened on Tuesday.

"But we will be watching this very closely as we get into next week, where we're going to really start to see what the effect is on public health from the changes that have happened as the result of Stage 1," she said. "Then we'll really see what's happening out there in public health and that will influence where we go from there."

Elliot did, however, say that the province's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, remains "satisfied that overall we are on a downward trend."

"It's going to be a slow, incremental path and, all things considered, Dr. Williams is of the view that that's where we're headed and we're taking our cues from him."

Lead photo by

Boris T

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