doug ford announcement

Doug Ford warns that shutdown won't end if people keep breaking the rules

With a staggering record high of 4,249 new COVID-19 infections reported in Ontario this morning, Premier Doug Ford is once again asking residents to stop flouting public health guidelines by gathering socially outside their homes — or else.

"We need people to hunker down and stay home, we need you to avoid gatherings with people outside your household, we need you to practice physical distancing when out, wear a mask and wash your hands often," said Ford in a stern address to the public on Friday morning.

"If these basic measures continue to be ignored, the consequences will be more dire — the shutdown won't end at the end of January and we will  have to look at more extreme measures."

As for what those measures will be — a curfew? a return to quarantine measures like we experienced in March? — remains to be seen.

Ford announced that new modelling numbers will be released on Tuesday to illustrate how "out of control" our current situation really is.

"This is so, so serious — as a matter of fact, this is the most serious situation we've ever been in, ever, ever since the beginning of this pandemic," said Ford during his Friday morning press conference at Queen's Park. "I can't stress this enough. Please follow the protocols that the health units have put forward."

Ford noted that the rollout of vaccines against COVID-19 is well underway in the province — some 15,000 people received immunizations yesterday alone — though he also said that the federal government needs to provide more doses.

"We're just starting to get back down the road to starting our normal lives, but we have a long long way until enough vaccines arrive for everyone," said the premier.

"In the meantime, more people will get sick, our hospitals will become overwhelmed.  So please, I'm asking all Ontarians, please stay home and save lives."

Ontario's Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health Barbara Yaffe was a bit blunter (and realistic) with her messaging when explaining why people continue to break social gathering limits and other important lockdown rules.

"It's been a long time, you know, people are sick and tired of the whole thing, they may not know anyone who has become ill," said Yaffe of the pandemic.

"But believe me — although it tends to affect more older people, it does affect younger people too."

Yaffe again urged all Ontario residents to stick to current public health regulations, but noted that, after seeing the modelling numbers herself, "I think we do need to consider more serious measures" similar to what's worked in other jurisdictions.

With a viable vaccine now in play, both Ford and Yaffe admitted that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It's up to members of the public to determine how many more innocent people must die before Ontario reaches that light.

"We are in a crisis — that's how I can describe it. It is scary and we need to work together," said Ford.

"We have the best hospitals, we have the best public health units…  but if the average person is not listening, it doesn’t matter. If you aren't listening, this is going to continue getting out of control."

Lead photo by

Premier of Ontario

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