Here we go again.
Quebec, Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador have documented a record number of COVID-19 cases since New Year’s Eve.
As a result, provincial governments are putting in new measures to deal with an Omicron-fueled rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
These measures include delaying in-person schooling in Ontario by two weeks. The provincial government will also harness the military to help speed up its third-dose vaccination efforts in Quebec.
Quebec introduces curfew
Quebec residents ushered in 2022 with a province-wide curfew, required to be home from 10 p.m to 5 a.m.
On New Year’s Day, the province reported 17,122 new COVID-19 cases.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association criticized the new measures, saying there’s no evidence a curfew will slow the spread of COVID-19.
“A curfew is particularly problematic because it purports to empower police officers to stop and question individuals simply for being outdoors at certain times of day,” Cara Zwibel, the association’s director of fundamental freedoms and acting general counsel, said in a statement.
“The burden of these police stops is likely to fall disproportionately on racialized individuals and other marginalized groups.”
Quebec is the only province in Canada to use a curfew as part of its efforts to reduce the spread of the virus.
New peaks in Ontario lead to further closures
Meanwhile, Ontario public health officials reported the province’s new record of 18,445 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday.
As positive coronavirus cases rose again, the government closed schools until (at least) Jan.17, banned indoor dining and cut capacity limits. Indoor entertainment venues and attractions like museums, movie theatres and gyms will be closed, too.
“The immediate goal of these measures will be to blunt the latest wave so we can ease the pressure on our hospitals,” Premier Doug Ford said Monday.
“We face a tsunami of new cases in the days and weeks ahead.”
The closure also refers to indoor casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments.
Outdoor horse and car racing tracks remain open with restrictions, including mandatory reservations and spectators limited to 50% of the usual capacity.
Proof of vaccination is mandatory for facilities with a usual capacity of 20,000 or more people.
Alert Level 4 in Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador set another record on Sunday with 519 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of active infections to 2,925.
On Monday, N.L. also announced new restrictions, placing the province in “Alert Level 4.”
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald advised residents to keep non-essential contacts low.
“The reality of this virus is that it’s so infectious, most people will acquire it, but our healthcare system can’t stand the pressure of everyone acquiring it at the same time,” Fitzgerald said.
The province’s new plan includes further capacity restrictions at gyms and restaurants. The approach will be re-assessed on Jan. 17.