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Coronavirus: State of emergency, reduced retail hours under consideration by Ontario cabinet

Click to play video 'Ontario remains tight-lipped on COVID-19 restrictions' Ontario remains tight-lipped on COVID-19 restrictions
WATCH ABOVE: As Ontario remains firmly in the grip of the COVID-19 crisis, there was no news from the provincial government Monday afternoon on what new restrictions could be imposed this week to help battle the virus. Travis Dhanraj has more – Jan 11, 2021

Hours before the Ontario government is set to make an announcement to address the soaring number of coronavirus cases, Global News has learned the cabinet is being urged to declare a state of emergency.

Multiple sources familiar with the deliberations and not authorized to speak publicly told Global News the declaration is one of several initiatives being debated by the Ontario cabinet.

As of Monday night, cabinet deliberations were still underway and a final list of restrictions wasn’t settled upon. The sources noted there was a chance there could be further changes to what was tentatively discussed and agreed on.

Read more: Ontario surpasses 5,000 total COVID-19-related deaths, adds 3,338 new coronavirus cases

However, Global News learned rules for retail operators allowed to remain open for business during the current shutdown will likely be adjusted and, if approved, shopping hours would be shortened.

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There are new restrictions set to be applied to the province’s construction industry. Some projects are set to be halted, but projects deemed to be critical for infrastructure and essential for operations will be allowed to be continued.

The sources also said Ontario officials are investigating the requirement of wearing masks in outdoor spaces where social distancing is not possible.

Read more: Toronto mayor says Ontario should impose full lockdown to protect health-care system

The developments come after speculation surrounding a curfew similar to the new one imposed by the Government of Quebec. Government sources told Global News Ontario officials rejected that idea.

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Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate medical officer of health, said Monday afternoon current trends in the province were “scary” and said as many as a third of residents surveyed reported they are not following public health guidelines.

She said the latest spike in cases can be attributed in part to people gathering over the holidays, growing outbreaks in long-term care and retirement homes, and workplace outbreaks.

Read more: Ontario government not currently considering imposing curfew, sources say

Yaffe said more must be done to help residents comply with public health rules, she said, including instituting paid sick days, bringing in eviction protections, and making isolation hotels available.

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Ontario’s death toll surpassed 5,000 on Monday after 29 more deaths were attributed to the novel coronavirus on Monday — along with 3,338 new cases and 80 additional COVID-19-related hospitalizations.

According to COVID-19 data released by the Ontario government on Monday, there are currently 1,563 people hospitalized due to coronavirus — an increase of 80 patients from the day before.

READ MORE: New mobile data shows influx of shoppers ahead of Ontario lockdown

Of those patients, 387 people are in intensive care units (a day-over-day decrease of one patient) and 268 are on ventilators (a day-over-day increase of two patients).

To date, 219,120 people have tested positive for coronavirus and 183,476 people were reported to have recovered from the virus.

The Ontario government said new COVID-19 modelling data will be released Tuesday morning on projections for the pandemic’s progression over the next several weeks.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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