Canada's biggest province has ordered a pandemic lockdown in Toronto, including one of its suburbs, a move that forces food establishments, bars, shopping malls, and other businesses to close their doors in hopes of keeping a dreaded second wave of coronavirus at bay.
The Ontario Provincial Government on Friday announced that Toronto and the Peel Region suburb will be placed on lockdown starting Monday. Authorities said they would not allow organized indoor activities or social gatherings except for members of the same household.
The new directive means that the country's financial capital will be operating with limitations on a structure that is similar to the start of the coronavirus outbreak. Unlike in March, schools will remain open while bars and restaurants will only be allowed to offer takeout and delivery.
Canada has 320,417 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 11,334 deaths and 256,646 recoveries. The government has so far carried out 13,350,215 tests.
The rigid measures come as Ontario -- home to 14.7 million of Canada's 38 million people -- registered 1,418 new COVID infections on Friday, including 420 in Toronto.
According to Canadian Premier Doug Ford, he knows the past few months have been "extremely difficult... COVID fatigue is setting in on all of us, but I have seen the strength of our people, and it is up to each and every one of us to determine our future," Bloomberg News quoted Ford as saying during a Friday media briefing in Toronto.
Business groups said they are devastated by the impending lockdown restrictions implemented on Toronto and Peel Region. The new measures will be in place for 28 days and will include prohibiting in-person shopping with exceptions for essential retailers like supermarkets, convenience stores, pharmacies, and even liquor stores -- all of which will now face a 50 percent capacity limit.
COVID cases in the country are poised to surpass 20,000 a day at its current rate of infection, data provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada showed. Canada has averaged just below 5,000 cases daily during the last week. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's top medical officer, warned the country could reach 60,000 a day if the people increase their social interactions.
Canada flattened the pandemic curve after it ordered a shutdown when cases of the virus ballooned in North America in the spring. Schools were closed, and many businesses were temporally shut. The wearing of face coverings became widespread and did not become a political issue.