© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

New COVID shutdown begins in Ontario, as province faces 'a tsunami of new cases'

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, wearing a dark blue suit, white shirt and blue tie, with Canadian flags behind him.
Doug Ford
Ontario Premier Doug Ford ordered a new COVID-related shutdown Monday, as Omiron surges across the province.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced sweeping new restrictions to try to curb the Omicron variant of COVID-19. He said the result of inaction would be catastrophic.

Ford said he understands people will be angry and confused by the new restrictions, but the modelling suggests that about 1 percent of people who contract the Omicron variant will end up in hospital. And he adds that 1 percent of hundreds of thousands of people is still too many for the hospital system.

"Omicron case counts are rising exponentially across the province. We face a tsunami of new cases in the days and weeks ahead," Ford said. "And as we do, virtually everyone in this province will know someone who has been exposed to this virus. Now we’re bracing for impact.”

The new restrictions will see schools closed to in-person learning until at least Jan. 17; indoor dining at restaurants, bars and other food settings must close; and gatherings cut to five people indoors and 10 outdoors. Retail and personal care services will have capacity limits cut to 50 percent and indoor concert venues, theaters and cinemas must close.

Ford said the numbers of people sick suggests operating schools will be a challenge. He said businesses and organizations will have to ensure their employees work remotely.

The province’s chief medical officer, Dr. Kieran Moore, said there will likely be a rapid increase to the number of people in hospitals in coming weeks and that should peak by the end of January. He said the new restrictions will buy time for the province to increase third doses and see the arrival of anti-viral medication to treat COVID-19.