Coronavirus: More details could be provided this afternoon on the size of gatherings in Toronto, Peel and Ottawa

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Premier Doug Ford is expected to make an announcement at Queen’s Park this afternoon, a day after confirming that his government is seeking new restrictions on gatherings in Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa.

Ford will be joined at today’s new conference by Minister of Health Christine Elliott, Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams, and Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

On Wednesday, the premier said his cabinet members were meeting to discuss reducing the number of people allowed to congregate in private venues in Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa, three areas of the province that have experienced a recent increase in COVID. -19 cases.

Ontario recorded 315 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest daily number of infections reported since the start of June. In Toronto, 77 new cases were confirmed on Wednesday, 54 in Peel region and 61 in Ottawa.

Speaking to reporters at Queen’s Park on Wednesday, Ford said he had consulted with local mayors and medical officers of health to develop new restrictions in all three areas.

Currently in stage 3 of the plan to reopen the province, 100 people are allowed to assemble outside and 50 can assemble inside.

It is now known how many people will be allowed to congregate under the new restrictions, but Ford said he hoped to provide more information today.

The premier said the province would also introduce “stiff fines” for people who violate the rules for gatherings.

“They (the fines) will be the highest in the country and they will fall under provincial jurisdiction. This will not fall under federal jurisdiction and we will therefore ensure that they are followed, ”he said Wednesday.

The size of gatherings currently permitted by the province has raised growing concerns among local politicians and public health officials due to the increase in the number of cases linked to large parties and private events, such as weddings.

Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr Eileen de Villa, said Wednesday that public health officials were investigating four marriages in the city that led to 22 infections.

Government sources told CTV News Toronto on Wednesday that the new limits may not apply to companies, which have expressed concerns about the impact of more restrictions on the viability of their operations.

‘It’s time to act’

Speaking to CP24 on Thursday morning, infectious disease specialist Dr Isaac Bogoch said he believed further restricting the size of gatherings would likely be “warmly welcomed” by most people.

“I like that it’s a regional approach and definitely targets areas where the burden of COVID-19 is greatest. So that’s certainly a positive point, ”he said.

“Frankly, now is the right time to do it. A few days ago there were more than 300 cases. We have seen a steady increase in the number of cases across the province, primarily due to these three areas. It’s time to act.

Bogoch said he was concerned about the potential impact of a fine for breaking the rules.

“The fines always make me a little nervous and the fines certainly have the potential to backfire,” he said.

“We saw what happened when people were fined, for example, much earlier in the pandemic, just for walking through a park. It has the potential to have a disproportionate impact on more marginalized societies.

He said he hopes that if the province imposes heavy fines, it will be done in a “very careful manner.”

“You have to think about it a lot to get everything done right,” he said.

The Prime Minister’s press conference will take place at 1:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on CP24.com.

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