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Increase in COVID cases puts Ontario's reopening plan on hold

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott appears in green suit with red poppy pin while other stand behind her.
Ontario Government
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott announces the change in Brampton Wednesday.

Less than 24 hours after Ontario’s health minister said the province isn’t changing course on its reopening plan, the next phase is being put on hold. It’s all because of an upward trend in the number of COVID-19 cases.

A week ago there were 372 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario. Since then the numbers have been increasing. The seven-day average is now about 500 cases.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said the jump was expected because the cooler weather has sent people indoors. Also, capacity restrictions were lifted for some venues such as stadiums and restaurants.

However, on Wednesday, the government of Premier Doug Ford hit the brakes on easing restrictions for some high-risk settings, which were to start next Monday. Those settings include bars and restaurants with dance facilities, strip clubs and bathhouses

"We will remain vigilant and continue to monitor trends and we will evaluate in 28 days if it is safe to move forward," said Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health. "We have taken a cautious approach to reopening the province, and the plan was always designed to be guided by the ongoing assessment and monitoring of key public health and healthcare indicators."

Moore also said he expects case numbers to continue to rise, but it’s unlikely Ontario will need to reintroduce widespread restrictions. If measures are needed, he said they will be brought in on a regional basis.