Ontario set to return to lockdown amid rise in COVID cases across Canada

Published on : Friday, April 2, 2021

The popular Canadian province of Ontario has decided to return to a lockdown on Saturday after a steady rise in COVID-19 cases. Home to 14 million people, more than a third of the country’s population, the region is all set to close down for 28 days with stricter restrictions in place on stores, gyms, restaurants and hair salons among others. The decision has been undertaken in order to bring the current COVID-19 situation under control.

The province has reported nearly 2000 new cases daily for a week, double of the infections reported in the beginning of March. The new rules as announced by Ontario Premier Doug Ford are intended to counter the spread of the virus in Canada’s most populous province, which includes the capital city of Ottawa. However, the restrictions would not be as stringent as the province-wide lockdown that was imposed in December. Some regions, including the city of Toronto, are already operating under similar rules and Ford’s move would extend them to the entire province.

According to the new rules, essential services will remain open but capacity will be limited to 50 percent while non-essential shops will be operated at a reduced capacity of 25 percent. Gyms and salons will remain completely closed but schools are expected to remain open until at least April 12. The province has begun easing restrictions in recent weeks but as the new variants of the virus came along cases showed a consistent rise. The biggest hot spot of new COVID-cases is Toronto, the country’s financial capital. More than half of the cases reported on Wednesday were in Toronto and Peel, a suburban region just west of the city.

With less than 2% of the population fully vaccinated and the government facing difficulty in importing enough shots, Canada’s slow vaccine progress is also contributing to the latest crisis. The country also have a little vaccine manufacturing capacity of its own and while a number of U.S. states have now made the vaccine widely available to the adult population, Toronto’s city-run clinics are still focusing on getting the vaccine to residents 70 and older, in addition to health care staff and other categories of essential workers.

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