'There will be fines': Ontario to reduce social gathering limits amid rise in coronavirus cases

WATCH ABOVE: Ontario Premier Ford promises 'severe, severe fines' for new social gathering rules

The Ford government says it will be reducing the limit on social gatherings amid a rise in coronavirus cases in the province.

Ford said at his daily press conference that a proposal will be brought before cabinet Wednesday. An announcement may come as early as later in the day Wednesday but will most likely come on Thursday.

As of right now, the limit on social gatherings is 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors.

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If the reduction happens, it will be the first rollback the government has done since beginning the province’s reopening plan several months ago.

Provincial health officials have attributed the spike in cases largely to people not following public health guidelines at social gatherings.

Ford has promised to take actions in the regions where most of the cases have emerged — Toronto, Peel, and Ottawa.

He has also not ruled out further lockdowns in those areas if virus case numbers aren’t brought under control.

Ford said he will consult with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams, as well as the mayor of the most affected regions, including Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Toronto Mayor John Tory.

“I’ll always follow the guidelines of the health and the science and when they ask something to be done, we’re usually, 99.9 per cent of the time, we’re on the same page,” he said.

“We’re going to act quickly on this and yes, there will be fines. There’s going to be some severe, severe fines for people who want to ignore the regulations and the guidelines,” he continued.

“They’re gonna be the highest in the country and it’ll be under provincial jurisdiction.”

It is not clear at this time what the new limits will be.

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On Wednesday, Ontario reported 315 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the provincial total to 45,383.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said 64 per cent of the new cases are people under the age of 40.

 

Ford also pledged today to increase the province’s testing capacity by allowing pharmacies across Ontario to conduct COVID-19 tests.

The province currently has 148 assessment centres and many have seen hours-long lineups for tests in recent days.

Ford said when the arrangement with pharmacies is finalized there will be thousands of places to get a COVID-19 test.

–With files from The Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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