Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, Canada, and members of his cabinet are considering a curfew, travel limits, and ordering the shutdown of some construction-related operations as part of a suite of steps in response to record-high COVID-19 cases in the province.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones stated on Thursday, April 15, that Ford’s cabinet has been meeting “regularly,” and all solutions, including a curfew, are “on the table.”

Modelling is expected to be released on Friday, following a record of 4,736 new cases registered in Ontario on Thursday.

The following recommendations are being considered by the Ontario cabinet but have not yet been formally approved:

  • All non-essential retail is closing, and there will be no curbside pickup or delivery.
  • Retail hours of service are to be limited even further.
  • Limiting pick-up at the curb (only permit non-essential retail to deliver).
  • Non-essential construction, factories, and manufacturing not related to health, food, or automobiles will be closed.
  • All outdoor gatherings for non-family members of the same household are prohibited.
  • The capacity of indoor activities such as worship services, weddings, and funerals is limited.
  • We are increasing police powers by increasing fines.

Jones acknowledged that enforcing a curfew would present its own set of problems, adding that she was concerned about an increasingly irritated public.

“I am concerned about the riots in Montreal,” said Jones, referring to the two days of rioting that took place in the city after the CAQ government decided to reduce the city’s curfew from 9:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. due to an increase in homicides.

Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health also called the current situation “dire” at a news conference at Queen’s Park on Thursday afternoon. 

Dr. Barbara Yaffe told reporters that “I really wish I had better news to give you today.”

“I have been providing updates to Ontarians for over a year now, and at some of the previous press conferences, I referred to the situation as worrisome and even scary. What is truly scary is that when I used those words before, our rates and our trends were nowhere near where we find ourselves today.”

According to the Toronto Star, the Cabinet is also expected to consider tightening limits on what types of businesses will open.

If the bill is passed, Ontario will become the second province to impose a curfew. Since January 9, 2021, Quebec has been under a curfew.

The Ontario government on Thursday also announced 1,932 people hospitalized with COVID-19 (up 55 from the previous day), including a record peak of 659 patients in intensive care units (up 17) and 442 patients on ventilators in ICUs (unchanged).

On Monday, hospital staff throughout the province began reducing elective surgeries and non-urgent procedures in order to maintain the capacity needed to treat additional COVID-19 patients.

Northern Ontario hospitals were excluded from canceling non-emergency operations. Workers at those facilities should plan to ramp down rapidly soon, according to the latest memo from Ontario Health.

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