Coronavirus latest: Toronto to enter lockdown after new cases hit record highs

People with and without masks walk past the Hudson’s Bay flagship store in Toronto’s Queen Street

Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, ordered a lockdown on metropolitan Toronto from Monday after a record high number of new coronavirus cases were reported at the weekend.

The province recorded 1,534 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, following a record 1,588 on Saturday, prompting officials to impose a lockdown on Canada’s largest city.

Of the total, about 460 were reported in Toronto, 490 in Peel Region, and 130 in York Region, according to provincial health minister Christine Elliott.

From Monday, all outdoor dining and patios closed will be shut in Toronto as well as neighbouring Peel.

“Take-out, drive-thru and delivery options remain available and are strongly encouraged to support local businesses,” the city said in a statement.

Toronto mayor John Tory urged city residents to follow the health guidelines as the city closed many stores. Malls were shut, except for essential businesses. Large retailers with a grocery section can remain open at 50 per cent capacity.

All hair salons, barber shops, nail salons and tattoo parlours, indoor gyms and recreational programmes are suspended.

“Residents are asked to stay home, except for essential trips for groceries, health care, child care, school and work,” the Toronto city statement said.

Canada has reported more than 326,000 cases since the pandemic began, with more than 11,400 fatalities. Of those, Ontario accounted for about 104,000 cases and 3,500 deaths.

Health officials warned of a heightened threat to the country as the holiday season approached.

“Both community transmission and outbreaks are contributing to Covid-19 spread in Canada, including spread to high risk populations and settings,” Theresa Tam, the country’s chief medical officer, said on Sunday.

“Our best protection, now and into the holiday season, is to limit errands and outings to the essentials, keep in-person social activities to our existing household and strictly and consistently maintain public health practices,” she added.

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