Premier Doug Ford says that he is “praying” that he doesn’t have to expand restrictions on bars, restaurants and gyms to other parts of Ontario but he says that he will ultimately follow the advice of public health officials.
Last week, the Ford government announced that it would prohibit indoor dining at bars and restaurants in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel for 28 days and close a host of other facilities, including gyms, casinos and movie theatres.
At the time officials said that the “very, very steep trajectory” of cases in those jurisdictions gave rise to the need for new restrictions.
Officials, however, said that there is no need for province wide intervention at this point and that any restrictions should be “tailored” to the local communities experiencing higher levels of infection.
Speaking with reporters during his regular COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday, Ford said that placing some regions back in a modified version of Stage 2 was “one of the toughest decisions” he has to make as premier but was ultimately necessary.
He said that right now he has no intention of expanding the restrictions to other parts of Ontario, though he conceded that things could change.
“As of right today no we don’t but I always sit down with our chief medical officer and the command table and get their input. I am just praying we don’t have to expand this,” he said. “Everybody just keep following the protocols and let’s get these numbers down because I will tell you it is painful doing what we had to do last week. It really weighs on you.”
47 cases now traced back to Hamilton spin studio
Toronto has seen its seven-day rolling average of new cases rise to 269 while Peel Region’s seven-day average now stands at 132.
While those numbers are the highest in Ontario, a number of other regions are also beginning to report increasingly higher daily counts, prompting to some whether the stricter restrictions in place in Peel, Ottawa and Toronto need to be expanded.
York Region, for example, has reported an average of nearly 69 new cases over the last seven-days while Halton Region has seen its seven-day average rise to nearly 34. When you adjust for population both of those jurisdictions are now reporting about 6.1 cases per 100,000 people compared to 9.1 cases per 100,000 people in Toronto and Peel Region.
Over the weekend, public health officials in Hamilton also confirmed that there are now 47 positive cases associated with a spin studio in that community.
When asked about that outbreak, Ford refused to say whether it would lead to the order closing gyms to be expanded elsewhere, only saying that he would have to “see what the health team and the chief medical officer out in Hamilton have to say.”
“I have talked to so many gym owners and you know I feel bad for all the gyms but I really feel terrible for the smaller gyms that have followed protocols and have done everything they possibly can to make sure they have a safe environment,” he said. “How can your heart not break for these people?”