Doug Ford says Ontario is staring down the barrel of another lockdown
With fresh modelling data projecting as many as 6,500 new cases of COVID-19 per day in Ontario by mid-December, provincial officials are moving fast to clamp back down on citizens and businesses in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
Premier Doug Ford announced Friday afternoon that his government had updated its newly-launched, colour-coded COVID restriction system to lower thresholds for each level of lockdown across the province.
What this means for some regions is a transition from the yellow to orange or orange to red zones as of Monday (save for Toronto, which will enter the red zone tonight.)
The "Red-Restrict" zone itself has also been updated with new recommendations to limit non-essential trips outside the home, refrain from visiting other households, and work remotely if possible.
Calling the modelling data released on Thursday "alarming," Ford noted that numbers are increasing rapidly and that, based on current projections, intensive care units could be overwhelmed in 6 weeks.
"The impact on our hospitals would be absolutely devastating," said the premier, flanked by Health Minister Christine Elliott and the province's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, during his Friday afternoon press conference.
"As premier, I can't accept that and I won't accept that. We must do whatever it takes to slow the spread of this virus," said Ford. "So we're here today to take action."
Ford went on to announce the lowered threshold limits, but also noted that the province may need to make further adjustments in the future.
"I've asked Dr. Williams to take another hard look at the restrictions and come back to us next week with his advice if further steps are necessary," said Ford.
"My friends, I know this will be difficult [and] you've already sacrificed so much but we need to be clear about what's at stake: We're staring down the barrel of another lockdown, and I will not hesitate for a second if we have to go further."
They still don't have specific parameters for what would trigger a lockdown, or what a lockdown would look like. It is pretty worrisome that these questions haven't already been answered, given that again, Peel and Toronto and York should be locked down now.— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) November 13, 2020
While it's clear that another full lockdown could be looming, the province has yet to make clear what exactly the nefarious "gray zone" would entail.
When asked what would be required for a region to be move from red to gray restrictions, and what those restrictions would be, Williams answered the question with more questions.
"The question is when would one do a lockdown, what would the lockdown consist of?" he said. "Does it consist of closing certain aspects? All aspects? Does it include closing schools, yes or no? What do you do with long term care visitiation?"
"We have these balances to make there because there's other consequences of the lockdown that you have to deal with, so we will want to make sure that advice comes from the public health measures table," Williams continued. "Because as the Premier would say, it would not be a light decision at all."
Looks like we have a full lockdown in our near futurehttps://t.co/RzxWUzLJiM— Todd Burgess (@tburgess57) November 11, 2020
Williams says that the public health measures table will be bringing back recommendations in this regard to Elliott and Ford next week.
Ford couldn't say much about what a lockdown would entail either, but he made it perfectly clear that he'd put one in place if necessary.
"Everything is on the table," said the premier to reporters. "When I get the green light, and Dr. Williams says the tables come back and they want a lockdown, I will lock down quicker than you can blink your eyes.
"My number one priority is to protect the lives, protect the safety of every single person in ontario and I won't hesitate for a heartbeat to do that."
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