Ontario reported 1,588 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, along with 21 new deaths.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said 1,363 more cases are marked as resolved and nearly 46,700 tests have been completed.
In the Greater Toronto Area, there are 522 new cases in Peel Region, 450 in Toronto and 153 in York Region.
Saturday’s daily case count for the province is the highest seen in the pandemic so far, ahead of the 1,581 cases reported on Nov. 14.
There are currently 518 people in hospital, 142 people in intensive care units — with 92 of those individuals on a ventilator.
Lockdown begins Monday for Peel and Toronto
At a news conference on Friday, Premier Doug Ford announced that Toronto and Peel Region would move into lockdown at 12:01 a.m. on Monday. The lockdown will last at least 28 days, and Ford said it is necessary to curb growing numbers of COVID-19 cases.
The province also said it will fine people $750 for any violations of public health rules.
“Further action is required to prevent the worst-case scenario,” Ford told reporters.
WATCH | Health Minister Christine Elliott explains what’s open and closed:
Elsewhere in the province, Durham and Waterloo regions are moving into the red-control zones, while Huron-Perth, Simcoe-Muskoka, southwestern Ontario and Windsor are moving to the orange-restrict zone on Monday.
Lockdown measures for Toronto and Peel include:
- No indoor gatherings with anyone outside a person’s household.
- Individuals who live alone can have close contact with one other household.
- Outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people.
- Restaurants are limited to takeout, drive-thru and delivery only.
- Religious services, funerals and weddings are limited to 10 people indoors or 10 people outdoors.
- Gyms are closed.
- Non-essential retail and malls are limited to curbside pickup or delivery only.
- Personal-care services, casinos and bingo halls are closed.
- Post-secondary institutions move to virtual instruction, with some exceptions, such as clinical training.
- Pharmacies, doctor and dentist offices, grocery stores, essential services remain open.
- Schools will also remain open.
Malls extend hours in anticipation of increase in visitors
Prior to Monday’s lockdown for Toronto and Peel Region, several malls in the Greater Toronto Area are extending their hours Saturday and Sunday in anticipation of a rush of visitors.
Malls will be limited to curbside pickup or delivery only starting Monday as part of the new restrictions.
Yorkdale Shopping Centre and Scarborough Town Centre will now be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. this weekend as well.
Yorkdale is extending operating hours this weekend to safely manage an anticipated increase in visitors and to minimize congestion in the shopping centre. Our extended hours of 11am-9pm will make it more convenient for customers to avoid the peak shopping period between 1pm-4pm. <a href=”https://t.co/5qSfKD0JVP”>pic.twitter.com/5qSfKD0JVP</a>
The malls are looking to encourage shoppers to avoid visiting at peak hours, which are typically from 1 to 4 p.m. on weekends, as they expect an influx of people will want to get their shopping done prior to lockdown, they said in a media release.
They said the shopping centres have worked closely with public health officials, and they encourage shoppers to use live chat features and mapping tools to plan out visits in advance.
The closing of malls comes as many people have begun their holiday shopping.
Travel to other regions discouraged prior to lockdown
Some regions are asking residents not to travel to areas with a high number of COVID-19 cases, and are asking people from hot spots not to tour less afflicted parts of the province.
The health unit for Prince Edward County and Belleville, Ont., urged people on Friday evening to avoid all non-essential travel, especially to and from areas with higher rates of COVID-19, to help the region stay in the green zone.
The region has 15 active cases of COVID-19, 14 of which are new cases reported in the last week, said the local health authority.
That means about 8.3 people per 100,000 in the region have COVID-19. If the rate rises to 10 per 100,000 people, Hastings and Prince Edward counties could enter the yellow zone.
Markham, Ont., Mayor Frank Scarpitti on Friday asked Toronto and Peel residents not to travel to York Region to gather or for holiday shopping.
The positivity rate in York Region is about six per cent, and the area opted against a possible lockdown, due to “high compliance” by the public and businesses.
But the region is calling on the province to tighten red zone rules around shopping centres, which it says is needed now that nearby Toronto and Peel will soon be in lockdown.
Closure of small businesses a ‘punch to the gut’: CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), which represents 110,000 small and medium-sized businesse across the country, said Friday the news of a lockdown is devastating to business owners in Toronto and Peel Region.
“It is outrageous that today’s restrictions once again create an unfair advantage for big-box operators like Walmart and Costco, leaving Main Street retailers to shoulder the burden alone,” the federation said in a statement.
“That large department stores can be open while small retailers are forced to close during the busiest season of the year is a direct punch to the gut of independent businesses.”
The organization also called on the province to provide full financial support to small businesses to ensure they can reopen, instead of having to close down for good following the lockdown.
“Current supports are a drop in the bucket — the province must open up its wallet to support small businesses through the lockdown period,” the federation said.