Ontario’s new COVID-19 restrictions include increased police powers, restricting gatherings

The Ontario government has unveiled several new COVID-19 restrictions aimed at curbing record-high cases in the province, including increased police powers, provincial border checkpoints and restricting outdoor gatherings.

Premier Doug Ford made the announcement at Queen’s Park Friday afternoon.

“The reality is there are few options left.”

Ford announced an extension of Ontario’s state of emergency and stay-at-home order in line with recommendations made by doctors and scientists earlier in the day.

Read more: Ontario reports more than 4,800 new COVID-19 cases, setting another single-day record

As part of the new restrictions, he said all non-essential construction and recreational facilities such as tennis courts and playgrounds will be closed.

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Solicitor General Sylvia Jones told reporters the Manitoba and Quebec border checks will be effective as of 12:01 a.m. on Monday.

She also said officers will temporarily be allowed to ask people where people live and why they aren’t at their home. Jones said officers will have the discretion to issue a $750 ticket if the resident declines to respond to the questions or fails to provide a valid reason.

Read more: Ontario’s new COVID-19 restrictions include increased police powers, restricting gatherings

The new restrictions came as the provincial government unveiled new projection data on Friday indicating the only way to flatten the surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is a six-week stay-at-home order and at least 100,000 doses of vaccine administered a day.

According to the documents, there has been a 67 per cent growth in hospitalizations related to the virus and a 51 per cent growth in ICU occupancy.

Officials also noted under every scenario, more vaccinations mean a faster resolution to the COVID-19 crisis in the long run.

This is a developing story that will be updated throughout the day.

— With files from Jessica Patton, Gabby Rodrigues and The Canadian Press

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