Testing by appointment only, new restrictions for bars, restaurants and gyms

An assessment centre, set up at Michael Garon Hospital in Toronto

Ontario is making COVID-19 testing available by appointment only, making masks mandatory in public indoor spaces across the province, and tightening restrictions on businesses in virus hotspots.

The latest measures come as the government has faced growing criticism over crippling lines at assessment centres, delays in getting tests results and a surge in cases.

The province reported a record 732 cases today and a ballooning backlog of 90,513 tests.

For weeks, the majority of new cases have been reported in Toronto, neighbouring Peel Region and Ottawa.

Premier Doug Ford says that starting Saturday, restaurants, bars, gyms and banquet halls in those areas will face tighter restrictions to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

He says no more than 100 customers will be allowed in restaurants and no more than six people will be permitted at a table.

  FACE COVERINGS EVERYWHERE

    For the first time, the government is mandating face coverings in public places throughout the province. Such measures had previously been left up to municipalities, with Premier Doug Ford saying a one-size-fits-all approach didn't make sense in such a vast province.
    The province says masks will be mandatory in places such as businesses, facilities and workplaces, with limited exemptions, including corrections and developmental services.

    POP THE SOCIAL BUBBLE... MAYBE

    A news release from the government says it is ``pausing social circles'' and suggesting that all Ontarians only have close contact with those who live in the same household. It says people should maintain a two-metre physical distance from everyone else. Those who live alone, it says, can consider having close contact with another household.
    But at a news conference Friday, Ford declined to go that far, saying people should shrink their circles as much as possible.

    DROP-IN TESTING NO MORE

    COVID-19 assessment centres will stop offering walk-in testing starting Sunday, and in an effort to cut down on a backlog of 90,000 untested swabs, will start offering tests again by appointment-only on Tuesday.

    HOT SPOT-SPECIFIC RESTRICTIONS

    The province is restricting the number of people able to participate in some indoor activities in Toronto, neighbouring Peel Region and Ottawa, which for weeks have been the epicentres of COVID-19 cases.
    Restaurants, bars and nightclubs will be limited to the number of patrons who can maintain at least two metres of physical distancing from every other patron, with a hard cap at 100. No more than six people will be allowed at a table, and each patron must give their name and contact information for optimal physical distancing.
    Group exercise classes at gyms will be capped at 10 people, and the total number of people in fitness settings will be limited to 50.
    At meeting and event facilities, such as banquet halls, there will be a cap of 50 people, with only six people allowed at each table.