UPDATE: GTA and Ottawa to go back to Modified Stage 2


Three hotspots in Ontario are reverting to a "modified Stage Two" after COVID-19 rates have seen a steep increase.

Health officials confirmed 939 new infections Friday morning, smashing the previous record of 797 cases set on Thursday.

According to Ontario's Chief Medical Officer David Williams, 71 per cent of new positive tests are coming from Toronto, the Peel Region and Ottawa.

"On Sept. 1 we had just over 110 new cases; today we have 939 new cases. As we post record testing numbers the percentage of people testing positive is rising too quickly with some communities showing as high as 10 per cent positivity," says Premier Doug Ford. "Left unchecked we risk worse case scenarios first seen in Italy and New York City."

In response, Dr. Williams says those regions will have new restrictions imposed for 28-days — the incubation period for the virus — starting at midnight Saturday.

The new rules will be centred on areas where physical distancing and other safety measures are difficult to adhere to like indoor workplaces, restaurants and entertainment venues.

They include: a prohibition on indoor dining at restaurants and bars, gyms, movie theatres, museums, zoos and casinos.

All wedding receptions in the region are to be postponed and sports played indoors or with physical contact will be limited to training sessions only.

"To limit the activities so that personal contact can be brought down under control during this 28-day period," he added.

Change could be coming to more regions if numbers start to climb, warned Williams.

"You may be impacted soon if your numbers go up accordingly," he says. "We need to be focusing back on this because ... if we get everybody doing that they should be doing then the demand at our assessment centres drops."

With some people in those hot spots currently having up to 50 community contacts, Dr. Williams says the province can't "test its way out of the second wave" and they need the public to help flatten the curve.

"If people adhere and follow those rules in all these settings we may not need to take any further steps," he says. "You can't test your way out of it and you can't case contact your way out of it, but you can by adhering to standards keep yourself out of it."

Ford added hospitals in the effected regions could be in crisis in a matter of weeks if nothing is done.

"Hospitalization and the number of people in intensive care have increased by 250 per cent. If current trends continue Ontario ICU admissions are predicted to more than triple in less than 30-days," says Ford.

The province is also asking people in those regions to stay home unless it's for "essential purposes."

Dr. Williams says schools will remain open as the rate of infection and transmission among school systems has remained under control. 

The province also promised $300-million to keep businesses afloat in Toronto, Peel and Ottawa.

Premier Ford announced the funding and waived taxes at the municipal and provincial levels for business owners affected by "modified Stage Two restrictions" Friday.