Ontario Premier Doug Ford said starting Friday private gathering limits will be reduced to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors in Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa.
The three regions have seen a rise in coronavirus cases and make up the bulk of Ontario’s daily COVID-19 case count in recent weeks.
The new limits do not apply to businesses and are only targeting private gatherings. They also do not apply to any region outside of the three hotspots.
“This includes social events and gatherings like private parties in your backyard or BBQs held in your home backyards and parks,” Ford told reporters at his daily press conference on Thursday.
“At this time it does not include events and gatherings held in staffed business or facilities such as movie threatres, restaurants, banquet halls, gyms, or convention centres.”
The previous limits were 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
The premier reiterated public health measures that people maintain two metres of distance apart with people outside their social circle.
Ford also announced a minimum fine of $10,000 for organizers or hosts of illegal social gatherings.
“This is the highest fine anywhere in the entire country.”
He said this in addition to the $750 fine for individuals who attend the parties and gatherings.
“This is a serious situation folks,” Ford cautioned. “We will throw the book at you if you break the rules.”
When asked about how the new limits compare to schools the premier said those settings are following public health guidelines by masking, using hand sanitizer, self-assessing themselves, and following physical distancing. The rules are also being ensured by staff and teachers.
“Comparing it to a wild party in the backyard where people are drinking, hugging, kissing, spitting and any other thing they can possibly think of. Not paying attention to the rules, spreading COVID-19, it’s unacceptable.”
Health Minister Christine Elliott reiterated that these are “totally unmonitored social events where none of the public health rules are being followed at all.”
Ontario’s chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams said these types of private parties and events contribute to cases in the community and that “invariably can roll back and infect our schools.”
Ford added that existing cross-province rules will continue to apply.
On Thursday, 293 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded. This week saw two daily case counts of over 300 cases.