TORONTO – Effective this morning (September 19th), the Ontario government has extended restrictions on private gatherings to the entire province. Indoor gatherings are now limited to 10 people, outdoor gatherings are limited to 25 people. All gatherings still require physical distancing measures.
“Folks, we can’t have these wild parties,” Ford said. “We have to crack down on the illegal parties.”
On September 18th, the province imposed these restrictions on Toronto, Ottawa, and Peel Region.
“We have to be vigilant,” Ford said.
Earlier this week, Eastern Ontario Health Unit medical officer of health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said he was asking for the EOHU region to be included into the initial order, because of the area’s proximity and ties to Ottawa.
The province reported 407 new cases of COVID-19 this morning. Cases have been increasing over the past two weeks.
The new restrictions are for private gatherings and do not affect restaurants, movie theatres, or other organized venues where capacity is managed and contact names are collected. Schools are exempt from the gathering limits because they are organized in cohorts and have protocols in place.
“We need to ensure we are doing everything we can to reduce the spread,” deputy premier and minister of health Christine Elliott told reporters at Queen’s Park.
The health minister said the action to restrict gatherings is in direct response to recent data that points to these gatherings being a leading contributor to the sharp increase in COVID-19 positivity rates.
“Each and everyone of us has a responsibility to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” she said.
“The recommendations to go province-wide is precautionary,” said the province’s associate chief medical officer of health Barbara Yaffe.
Responding to a question from Toronto Sun reporter Brian Lilley, Ford said that this measure was geared to deal with parties.
“It’s a deterrent. Unfortunately there are a few people that don’t want to follow the rules,” Ford said. “We’re trying to reduce the risk to people. Let’s use common sense.”
The province is also in the process of imposing new fines for people who organize large parties. Once passed, people who host large gatherings and parties that violate current restrictions face fines of at least $10,000. People attending gatherings that violate current restrictions can be fined $750 each.