York Region latest to face stricter COVID restrictions

FORD

TORONTO - Ontario announced stricter health measures for York Region on Friday in an effort contain what the province is calling an ``alarming'' surge in COVID-19 cases.

Premier Doug Ford says the region will be moved back into a modified Stage 2 of the province's pandemic plan, which bars indoor service in restaurants and closes gyms, among other things.

The tighter measures take effect Monday and will be in place for 28 days.

"I hate doing this,'' Ford said in announcing the restrictions on Friday. `"We just have to stop the spread.''

The announcement comes a week after Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa were placed under similar restrictions amid rising cases.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said there has been an ``alarming upward trend'' in cases in York Region recently, and evidence of community spread that requires stronger public health measures.

"We sincerely hope that we don't have to do it in any of the other regions,'' she said, adding the province is currently looking at Halton Region.

Ontario reported 712 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, along with nine new deaths related to the novel coronavirus.

Elliott says 213 of the new cases are in Toronto, 135 are in Peel Region, 108 are in Ottawa and 62 are in York Region.

The province now has a total of 62,908 cases of COVID-19, including 54,004 that are considered resolved and 3,031 deaths.