Less than 24 hours after the Mister of Health said that Ontario will “stay the course” on its planned re-opening, there’s been a change in course. On Wednesday, Christine Elliott announced in a statement that the unfurling of capacity limits has been put on pause out of an “abundance of caution” as the Province tries to manage the pandemic, and not fall back into old, business-limiting restrictions.
Faced with a 41 per cent increase in new cases of COVID-19 over the last 10 days, the Government of Ontario announced today that their putting future rollbacks on the lifting of capacity limits on hold. As announced last month, the Province was planning on lifting capacity limits on high-risk settings like restaurants, bars, night clubs, wedding reception venues, strip clubs, sex clubs and bathhouses starting next week on November 15. Not anymore though.
“Throughout the pandemic our government has taken a cautious approach to reopening, ensuring our hospital capacity remains stable and the province continues to report one of the lowest rates of active cases in the country,” said Elliott. “To protect our hard-fought progress and ensure we can continue to manage COVID-19 for the long-term, more time is needed before we can take the next step forward in our reopening plan.”
This is a definite change of tone for Elliott who, just yesterday at a media event, said that the recent bump in cases was all part of the plan because the colder weather was inevitably going to lead to more cases. “We know that the numbers have gone up somewhat. We anticipated that would happen,” Elliott said.
The rise in new daily cases began around October 31, about a week after the Provincial government removed capacity limits for businesses that require proof of vaccination to enter. For critics of the Government of Ontario, it’s proof that they’re moving too fast to re-open, and letting the COVID-19 virus get more out of control in the process.
“Today’s announcement is a clear indication of why Ford needs to stop putting the cart before the horse and touting the end of COVID-19 measures far in advance,” said Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner in a statement. “Public health restrictions should be based on evidence and data, not arbitrary dates. It’s time to stick to the science and listen to the advice of the experts and public health officials so we can get through the winter and protect the most vulnerable.”
“Even though we are seeing an increase in the number of cases, because so many people are doubly vaccinated now we’re still not seeing huge numbers of people in our intensive care units,” Elliott added. “We are not changing course at this point.”
On Wednesday, there were 454 new cases of COVID-19 across Ontario, with is up from 378 exactly one week ago. The 7-day rolling rate of new cases is now 502, which is up from 379 last Wednesday.