Ontario shutting down outdoor recreation, gatherings as COVID-19 cases climb in Simcoe Muskoka
BARRIE, ONT. -- The provincial government is adding sweeping new restrictions to stop what the Premier calls an "inferno" of COVID-19 cases.
At midnight, outdoor recreation facilities, including playgrounds and golf courses, will be shut down. Outdoor gatherings will be prohibited except by members of the same household.
Capacity at essential retailers, including big box stores, is being cut from 50 percent to 25 percent. Non-essential construction will be paused.
Beginning Monday, houses of worship and attendance at weddings and funerals will be limited to 10 people.
The province-wide stay-at-home order has been extended to May 21: the eve of Victoria Day holiday weekend. Solicitor General Sylvia Jones says police can stop citizens to ask where they're headed and for their home address.
Checkpoints will also be set up to stop travel between Ontario, Quebec, and Manitoba.
In Simcoe Muskoka, case counts hit triple digits for a second consecutive day, with 133 infections, including 43 hospitalizations.
Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre's (RVH) president and CEO calls the rising cases and hospitalizations during the third wave "a scary time." Janice Skot said hospitals are experiencing overwhelming admission numbers as staff encounter "a high level of fatigue, stress and burnout."
There have been 13 virus-related deaths in April so far, as the number of lives lost to COVID-19 across Simcoe Muskoka hit 215. No new deaths were reported Friday.
In Grey Bruce, the health unit declared a 'critical threshold' as infection numbers hit record levels for the area. The health unit pleaded with residents to hunker down and remain in their homes while staff try to contact trace the hundreds of potential carriers.
The spike in COVID-19 cases from region to region comes a little over a week since the province implemented the stay-at-home order requiring residents to only go out for essential reasons.
On Friday, the province reported another record in new daily COVID-19 infections, with 4,812 cases plus 25 more virus-related deaths.
New modelling projections unveiled Friday indicates Ontario's COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are at their highest levels since the pandemic started.
Ontario's associate medical officer of health said Thursday the situation was "dire" and that the data is "alarming."
RVH opened its doors to admissions from overwhelmed GTA hospitals.
The Barrie hospital currently has 43 COVID-19 positive patients, 14 patients in the intensive care unit and 13 on ventilators.
With files from The Canadian Press