Toronto is moving back into lockdown after grim projections show Canada is on the brink of being overwhelmed by Covid-19.
Canada’s largest city will close most non-essential businesses and services, beginning Monday.
Cases are rising across the country, and several other regions have had to increase restrictions.
There are currently about 5,000 new cases of coronavirus a day across the country.
The country’s chief public health official, Dr Theresa Tam, said the second wave has “far surpassed” peak levels from the first in the spring.
If things remain the same, Dr Tam said the country is on the trajectory to see 20,000 cases a day in five to six weeks.
But if people increase their social contacts over the holidays, she says that number could rise to 60,000 by the end of December.
Dr Tam noted that the second wave has hit harder, and has the potential to get much worse, as Canadians head inside during colder temperatures. While the first wave mostly affected large cities, rural parts of Manitoba and Nunuvut have been hit this time around. Hospitalisations and deaths are also increasing.
Speaking on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to reduce their interactions.
“I don’t want to be here this morning, you don’t want me to be here this morning, but here we are again. The cases across the country are spiking massively,” he said from outside his home, which is where he conducted his daily coronavirus updates during the first wave.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the lockdown measures on Friday afternoon, after two weeks of cases topping 1,000 a day, and loud calls from public health officials and frontline workers for tighter restrictions.
The lockdown will affect Toronto and neighbouring Peel regions, which are the hardest hit parts of the province. In-person shopping will be limited to essential services, and restaurants will only be allowed to serve for pick-up or take-out. Gyms and salons will be closed, and indoor meetings will be prohibited. Indoor gatherings are forbidden, and outdoor gatherings, funerals and weddings are limited to 10 people.
British Columbia has also announced new restrictions on social gatherings. Quebec had closed restaurants and gyms in September. In Manitoba, where the positive test rate is four times the national average, retail stores are forbidden from selling non-essential items. So while pharmacies are allowed to be open, they are not allowed to sell perfume, books or toys.