Ontario won't lift any more COVID-19 restrictions until at least October
Cases of COVID-19 are once again on the rise in Ontario with more than 400 new patients confirmed over the past two days alone.
While public health professionals remain confident that we can prevent a catastrophic outbreak, the pandemic's long-dreaded "second wave" appears to be upon us (or at least close to it).
This, nearly six weeks after a number of major restrictions were lifted for most of the province under Stage 3 of reopening.
In an effort to keep what government officials have called a "concerning" situation under control, the province is officially pressing pause on its economic reopening plan.
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliot announced on Tuesday that no additional restrictions would be lifted for at least four weeks based on the advice of Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams.
"Together, we've made remarkable progress in our fight against COVID-19. We have successfully avoided the worst seen in other parts of the world," said Elliott during the province's daily pandemic press conference on Tuesday.
"You've worked incredibly hard to limit the spread of COVID-19," she continued.
"But, as much as these efforts have made an impact and enabled us as a province to move into Stage 3 of reopening, the latest trends in numbers have raised some concern."
Premier Ford, Minister Elliott and Minister Lecce Make an Announcement https://t.co/d8w2T28BRC— Doug Ford (@fordnation) September 8, 2020
The trends are particularly concerning, says Elliot, as the province begins to re-open schools and post-secondary institutions today.
"That is why… we will be taking a pause of 4 weeks — or two, two week cycles of the virus — before considering any further loosening of public health measures or further reopening of businesses, facilities and organizations," she explained. "We did not make this decision lightly."
This means that places and activities the province have deemed "not yet safe to reopen" under Stage 3 guidelines will remain closed until at least early October, including saunas, amusement parks, self-service buffet restaurants and private karaoke rooms.
Elliott further said that the province won't be increasing its gathering limits for the next four weeks, keeping outdoor events capped at 100 people and indoor gatherings at 50.
"Taking a pause in further reopening at this time will help us to avoid returning to broad scale closures and shut downs," she explained before stressing the importance of our continued adherence to public health advice.
Like Williams and Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Elliott encouraged Ontario residents to keep up the physical distancing, wear face coverings, practice good hand hygiene, stay within their social circles and quarantine when necessary.
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