BARRIE, ONT. -- Public health officials in Simcoe Muskoka are urging the public to shrink their social circles as local cases of COVID-19 surge to numbers not seen since the spring.

Simcoe Muskoka health unit's Associate Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Colin Lee, said socializing increased during the summer months, alongside COVID cases. "Which is worrisome at this time when we are just now returning to school, and for the more vulnerable in our communities."

The region reports a total of 55 lab-confirmed cases this week alone, far surpassing the last highest weekly recorded cases the week of May 10 when the region had 44.

"This pandemic has been difficult for all of us, and we know that everyone is trying to do their best," Dr. Lee said. "What we need to do now is continue to work together, and to look out for one another, so that we can live with this pandemic as safely and as normally as possible until it's over."

A new outbreak was declared at the Orillia Leacock Retirement Lodge after a third-party service provider who supports the home tested positive.

A spokesperson for the lodge confirmed no residents or staff members are showing signs or symptoms of the virus. The home has suspended all indoor and outdoor visits until further notice.

Meanwhile, there has been a dramatic spike in the number of infections across Ontario. The province reports 401 new cases over the last 24 hours, a single-day increase not seen since early June.

Once again, the health minister said the majority of new cases are among people under the age of 40.

On Thursday, Premier Doug Ford announced new restrictions on social gatherings in the three main hot spots, Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa.

He also said there would be strict new fines for anyone breaking the rules.

Ford stated private indoor gatherings would be lowered from 25 to 10, and outdoor gatherings reduced from 100 to 25 in those areas.

Violators could face fines of $750, while hosts could be fined a maximum of $100,000.