Province restricts social gatherings

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced that new limits on social gatherings will apply to all areas of the province for the next 28 days after a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Social gatherings will be limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors in all regions effective immediately, down from 50 and 100.

Ford announced Saturday morning that the province was taking action following the rise in confirmed cases of COVID-19, from under 100 per day three weeks ago to more than 400 a day now.

“Folks, the alarm bells are ringing,” he said.

“We need to take decisive action as we did during the earlier stages of COVID to protect our vulnerable and to protect the progress we’ve made together.”

Ford said “too much” of the increase has been caused by people who “aren’t following the rules,” people who think it’s OK to hold parties and “carry on as if things are back to normal.”

“They aren’t.”

Ford said the limits on gatherings are “not fair to everyone who’s doing their part,” but that “this is about everyone’s health and safety, and we have to come down hard on the rule breakers.”

Ford said the province has introduced legislation that would implement fines of $10,000 for anyone organizing parties or gatherings above the new limits.

He said that under the province’s current emergency orders, anyone attending can be fined $750.

In a followup news release, the province said unmonitored and private social gatherings include functions, parties, dinners, gatherings, BBQs or wedding receptions held in private residences, backyards, parks and other recreational areas.

The new limits will not apply to events or gatherings held in staffed businesses and facilities, such as bars, restaurants, cinemas, convention centres, banquet halls, gyms, places of worship, recreational sporting or performing art events.

Existing rules, including public health and workplace safety measures for these businesses and facilities, continue to be in effect.

“We are taking further action to slow the spread and limit new cases of COVID-19 by reducing the size of private social gatherings across Ontario. This action is based on the increasing case counts that we are seeing,” said Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott.

“As we continue to closely monitor the spread of this virus, we will never hesitate to take further action to protect the health and well-being of all Ontarians.”

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