Province puts the brakes on reopening of Ontario over concerns about rising COVID-19 rates.

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The provincial health minister says the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases are worrisome enough that the government won’t be introducing any new opening measures until October.

Christine Elliott, speaking to reporters this afternoon, said the increasing number of people being diagnosed in the province “have raised some concerns.”

In late August, the health minister noted there were several days when there were fewer than 100 new cases each day. But the province reported 185 new cases in Ontario today and 190 – a 20 per cent increase in cases – on Labour Day.

“We will be taking a pause of four weeks,” says Elliott says noting it will be critical to control the spread of COVID-19 and prevent the need to lock down again.

“We will be taking a pause of four weeks,” says Elliott says noting it will be critical to control the spread of COVID-19 and prevent the need to lock down again.

Premier Doug Ford noted that most of the cases are in Toronto, Peel and Ottawa.

He also pointed out the OPP responded to a party in the Muskoka area with 170 people and laid charges under the Emergency Measures Act. Two people from out of the country are also being investigated for breaking the federal quarantine laws.

“We have to come down hard on people who are coming into our country. It’s a privilege coming into Canada…it is concerning we are seeing the numbers coming up.”

Ford appealed directly to the public to report situations where a lot of people are gathering. “I’m asking the police go in there and lay charges, we have to put the hammer down.”

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, also voiced concern about the rising case load. He says people put these lapses down to “COVID-fatigue.

“This is not the time to get casual about that. People say ‘I thought it was no big deal.’ It is a big deal.

“If you don’t know the people, you cannot assume it is not a problem,” added Williams saying if people do slack off, Ontario is susceptible to a second wave of disease as many other countries have.

“It’s not just talkā€¦if everybody starts to slide you end up with a second wave,” says Williams. “We still have the containment at hand yet we see the gatherings where there is a problem.”

Education Minister Stephen Lecce says the pause in the reopening plans demonstrates the province is taking the impact of COVID-19 seriously as schools begin to open.

The province has been heavily criticized by teachers, doctors and parents for its reopening plans.

In Lambton County, there have been two more people diagnosed with COVID-19 in September.