Ontario could reduce gathering limits to 10 people indoors, 25 outdoors in COVID-19 hotspots: sources

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TORONTO — Multiple sources have told CTV News Toronto that the government is seriously considering rolling back social gathering limits in Toronto, Peel Region, and Ottawa to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors.

However, sources also say the limits could change after Ontario Premier Doug Ford meets with the COVID-19 command table and the province’s Chief Medical Officer Of Health Dr. David Williams today.

Ford is expected to announce changes to gathering limits in COVID-19 hotspots on Thursday afternoon at Queen’s Park alongside Williams, Health Minister Christine Elliott and Minister of Municipal Affairs Steve Clark.

On Wednesday, the premier confirmed that his cabinet was discussing the possibility of rolling back the gathering limits in certain areas where a high number of COVID-19 cases have been reported. He also said that “severe fines” would be issued to anyone who ignores the public health guidelines.

“They (the fines) are going to be the highest in the country and they are going to be under provincial jurisdiction,” the premier said.

CTV News Toronto has been told the new restrictions will not apply to businesses, however it is unclear if it will impact weddings—which have been the source of multiple COVID-19 cases in the province.

However, Ivana Yelich, spokesperson for the premier, told CTV News Toronto Thursday morning that “no decisions have been made” yet regarding the changes to gathering limits.

In Stage 2 of the province’s reopening plan, only 10 people were allowed to gather indoors and outdoors.

In mid-July, as the number of infections dropped in the province, the government increased the social gathering limits to allow 50 people to get together indoors and 100 people to gather outdoors. Health officials prefaced that other measures such as social distancing must be maintained.

Since then, the daily case count has steadily crept back up, with 315 new COVID-19 infections reported Wednesday, 251 on Tuesday and 313 on Monday.

The majority of those cases were located in the province’s largest regions.

CTVNewsToronto.ca will stream the premier’s announcement live at 1:30 p.m.

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