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COVID-19: Latest developments in the Greater Toronto Area on April 17

Click to play video: 'New restrictions announced as COVID-19 variants surge in Ontario' New restrictions announced as COVID-19 variants surge in Ontario
WATCH ABOVE: Travis Dhanraj explains the Ontario government's latest COVID-19 restrictions – Apr 16, 2021

Here are the latest developments on the COVID-19 pandemic in the Greater Toronto Area for Saturday:

Ontario to ‘scope down’ new police powers: source

The Canadian Press reports that the Ontario government is expected to backtrack on new police powers aimed at enforcing anti-pandemic measures.

A source with knowledge of the discussions – but who was not authorized to speak publicly about them – says a “scoping-down” clarification is being approved.

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The new powers allow police to stop anyone at random and ask why they’re not at home and where they live.

The measures announced by Premier Doug Ford on Friday drew intense criticism.

Read more: Ontario government alters new, temporary COVID-19 police powers after widespread backlash

Many police forces say they won't use new powers

Prior to news that the Ontario government will be “scoping-down” the new police powers announced Friday, many police forces in the province said they would not be using the new measures.

The Toronto Police Service, Peel Regional Police, York Regional Police and Halton Police Service are among the forces that said they wouldn’t be used.

“The Toronto Police Service will continue to engage, educate and enforce, but we will not be doing random stops of people or cars,” a post on the Toronto police Twitter account said.

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“We can all do our part for the health and safety of everyone. The Toronto Police Service will continue to engage and enforce equitably and effectively, recognizing always that we must inspire public trust.”

Read more: Many Ontario police forces won’t use new COVID-19 powers to conduct random stops

Government backtracks on playground closures

In a tweet issued Saturday afternoon, Premier Doug Ford said his government would be reversing a measure initially announced Friday that also drew a lot of criticism.

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Ford said regulations would be amended to allow playgrounds to reopen.

“Ontario’s enhanced restrictions were always intended to stop large gatherings where spread can happen,” he said.

“Our regulations will be amended to allow playgrounds, but gatherings outside will still be enforced. Play outside safely. Parents keep your distance & wear masks if you can’t.”

New measures come into effect

Premier Doug Ford announced a raft of new restrictions Friday that went into effect first thing Saturday morning.

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The province’s stay-at-home order is being extended an extra two weeks, outdoor gatherings are now restricted to members of the same household only — though people who live alone can join another household — and many recreational facilities such as sports fields and golf courses are now closed.

Ford backtracked on playground closures Saturday — one day after announcing their closure — amid sharp criticism.

Read more: Ontario’s new COVID-19 restrictions include increased police powers, restricting gatherings

Status of cases in the GTA

Ontario reported 4,362 new coronavirus cases on Saturday.

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Of those:

  • 1,162 were in Toronto
  • 936 were in Peel Region
  • 430  were in York Region
  • 301 were in Durham Region
  • 144 were in Halton Region

Ontario reports more than 4,300 new cases, 34 deaths

Ontario reported 4,362 COVID-19 cases on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 412,745.

Thirty-four new deaths were also reported, marking a third-wave high and bringing the provincial death toll to 7,698.

The province indicated that the positivity rate for the last day was 6.9 per cent, which is down from Friday’s report, when it was 8.2 per cent, and up from last Saturday’s report, when it was 6.5 per cent.

Provincial figures showed there are 2,065 people hospitalized with the virus (up by 110 to reach a new pandemic high), with 726 in intensive care (up by 25), 501 of whom are on a ventilator (up by 21).

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Read more: Ontario reports more than 4,300 new COVID-19 cases, 34 deaths

More than 107K more vaccines administered in Ontario

As of Friday evening, 3,751,316 COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered in Ontario, marking an increase of 107,278.

So far, 344,244 people in the province are considered to be fully vaccinated.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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