Ontario Premier Doug Ford says an announcement will be made on Thursday regarding possible new COVID-19 restrictions amid rising cases and hospitalizations in the province.
Ford made the remarks when asked during a press conference Wednesday why his government has loosened restrictions recently despite worsening trends.
“Stay tuned. You’ll hear an announcement tomorrow but I’m very, very concerned to see the cases go up,” Ford said.
“I’m very concerned to see the ICU capacity and we all have to be vigilant and throughout the holidays over the next few days, I’m just asking people don’t gather in large groups.”
It’s not clear what measures the government may be considering.
Health Minister Christine Elliott was asked about the announcement and said “everything’s on the table and we will have further to say tomorrow.”
She said officials will have a “broad discussion” Wednesday afternoon.
The president of the Ontario Hospital Association said Wednesday that the number of patients in ICU, based on Critical Care Services Ontario data, is 421, with 32 more admissions Tuesday.
“This is the highest number of COVID patients in critical care at one time since the pandemic began,” Anthony Dale tweeted.
Ontario has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks with more contagious variants spreading. On Wednesday, 2,333 cases were reported, marking the seventh day in a row that figure has been above 2,000.
Ford first announced Tuesday that the province was considering imposing additional restrictions in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
“Everything’s on the table right now, so folks be prepared,” he said. “I’m asking you, don’t make plans for Easter. … I won’t hesitate to lock things down.”
Ford said Wednesday that “there’s light at the end of the tunnel” with vaccines, but for now, people must continue to follow health guidelines.
“We only have a little ways to go. It’s still going to be a tough haul, but we’re getting there,” he said.
“So let’s stay confident and we will get through this together and we will get back to normal.”
Ontario has loosened restrictions in some regions in recent weeks, including in-person dining restrictions in grey-lockdown, red-control, and orange-restrict zones of the province’s colour-coded pandemic response framework.
On Monday, outdoor fitness activities were permitted in lockdown zones, and the government previously announced that on April 12, personal care services would be allowed to open.
The province also recently made changes to its “emergency brake” measure, which allows it to quickly impose restrictions on a region.
The change allows the government to move a region into a “shutdown” with measures similar to those imposed in January, when most retailers closed and only essential services remained open.
— With files from Jessica Patton, Gabby Rodrigues and The Canadian Press