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The Ontario government is mulling tougher COVID-19 restrictions as the province continues to witness record-number of daily new infections.
Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet met virtually late Sunday afternoon to discuss possible measures. The meeting stretched into the evening.
Sources with knowledge of the meeting, who are not authorized to speak publicly, told Global News that the most likely scenario discussed was the suspension of in-class learning in Ontario for the first two weeks of January.
Also discussed were restrictions that could see the closure of gyms, bans on indoor dining and additional caps to capacity at non-essential retail locations, which currently stands at 50 per cent.
Global News has reached out to the Premier’s Office for comment on the possible new restrictions, but have yet to hear back.
Premier Doug Ford is set to hold a press conference on new measures Monday at 11 a.m.
He will be joined by Health Minister Christine Elliott, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore, Education Minister Stephen Lecce, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenflavy and CEO of Ontario Health Matt Anderson.
The province has reported record-high COVID-19 cases in recent days with the number of people in intensive care also on the rise.
On Sunday, Ontario reported more than 16,700 new infections. The number of people in ICU also increased by 10. Currently, there are 224 people in intensive care with COVID-19.
Read more: Ontario reports more than 16,700 new COVID cases, number of people in intensive care rises
Earlier this week, the province announced additional capacity restrictions for large indoor entertainment venues, capping them at no more than 1,000 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is less.
The government had also said that students and staff would return to school for in-person learning on Jan. 5, 2022. The majority of classes in Ontario were previously scheduled to resume following the winter holiday break but were pushed back two days to Jan. 5 to give schools time to prepare.
During the announcement, Dr. Kieran Moore, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said that all school and licensed child-care staff would be given N95 masks as an optional alternative to medical or surgical masks.
It was also said that “high-quality three-ply” cloth masks would be doled out for free for students and children in January while continuing PCR testing eligibility for symptomatic students and staff.
— With files from Mackay Taggart and Ryan Rocca
More to come…