Doug Ford to make announcement about Ontario lockdown measures tomorrow
Less than 24 hours after warning that he wouldn't hesitate to "lock things down" again in response to fast-rising cases of COVID-19, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has promised that a formal announcement regarding new potential lockdown measures will come down on Thursday.
What those measures will be is anyone's guess: Another provincewide shutdown like the one we started on Boxing Day? A three-week circuit breaker lockdown in specific hot spots such as Toronto and Peel? Nothing?
Ford himself did say yesterday, as he often does, that "everything's on the table."
The Premier is pleading with people to be vigilant during the upcoming long weekend, citing the December spike in cases.— Colin D'Mello CTVNews (@ColinDMello) March 31, 2021
The government warned then that a lockdown was coming. Last minute xmas shopping and inter-regional travel drove up infection rates. #onpoli
In theory, the provincial government could stick to its guns and keep moving regions through its colour-coded COVID response framework as planned.
It was less than a week ago, after all, that Ford and company announced the reopening of personal care services in all regions on April 12. Outdoor exercise classes just resumed in grey zone regions on Monday, and restaurants were only given permission to open their patios the weekend previous.
Such a sharp turnaround back into lockdown would be unpleasant for small businesses, to say the least, but so would all of their customers falling ill.
Scientists have been increasingly adamant in their warnings about variants of concern and ICU capacities amid the now-raging third wave.
Dr. Peter Juni, scientific director of the province's own COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, stated earlier this week that the pandemic is "completely out of control" in Ontario and that strict lockdown measures are the only way to prevent an impending disaster.
"There is no such thing as winning this race with just vaccinations," Juni said to the CBC on Monday. "We should not hope for miracles. They're not coming... vaccines will work much better when we start to control the growth we have now, otherwise the force of infection will be too high."
Not only have vaccines been slow to arrive (something that Ford and his team continuously blame the federal government for), dangerous mutations of the coronavirus continue to spread at an alarming rate.
According to Juni, these COVID variants are collectively associated with a 63 per cent increased risk of hospitalization, a 103 per cent risk of ICU admission and a 56 per cent increased risk of death.
Per the table's most recent data, variants of concern now comprise at least 67 per cent of all infections in Ontario.
On Wednesday, a new record high of 421 COVID-19 patients were in ICUs across the province.
NEW: Asked about rising #COVID19 and a new record of 421 ICU patients, Premier Doug Ford says "stay tuned, we'll have an announcement tomorrow." Yesterday he said he "won't hesitate to lock things down" with Easter weekend coming. #onpoli— Rob Ferguson (@robferguson1) March 31, 2021
The provincial government is set to discuss potential restrictions based on new modelling data this afternoon at Queen's Park. Whatever they decide will be made public on Thursday ahead of the Easter Weekend.
"Stay tuned," said Ford to reporters following a press conference on Wednesday. "You'll hear an announcement tomorrow."
Both Ford and Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau are already urging people to cancel any Easter travel plans and refrain from gathering to celebrate.
"I am extremely concerned about the situation that we're seeing and the numbers going up… I am concerned with the age group right now with younger people in ICU," said Ford on Tuesday.
"Nothing is more important than our health. The economy, yes it's important, but that can wait. Without people's health, we won't have an economy."
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