Ontario retracts COVID-19 restrictions after criticism from medical experts, police

Ontario retracts COVID-19 restrictions after criticism from medical experts, police

After intense backlash, Doug Ford's government on Saturday retracted some of the COVID-19 measures that he announced for Ontario a day earlier.

Along with allowing playgrounds to now remain open, Ontario is walking back the increased powers it gave to police. Solicitor General Sylvia Jones says police won't be allowed to randomly stop any pedestrian or driver to ask for their home address and reason for being out of their residence. Police will only be allowed to ask people for that information if they believe they're participating in a "organized public event or social gathering."

The change comes after backlash from medical professionals, residents and police services across Ontario, who said they wouldn't comply with the new powers.

The latest restrictions were announced late Friday afternoon amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. Along with extending the stay-at-home order for an additional two weeks, the Ontario government introduced these increased measures:

On Saturday, April 17:

  • All outdoor social gatherings are limited to people in the same household only, but someone who lives alone can join one other household

  • All non-essential construction workplaces are closed

  • Capacity limits at retail settings reduced to 25 per cent capacity

  • Outdoor recreational amenities, golf courses, basketball courts, playgrounds and soccer fields are closed

  • Police officers and other provincial offences officers have the authority to require any individual to provide their home address and purpose for not being at their residence

On Monday, April 19:

  • Weddings, funerals, religious services, rites or ceremonies limited to 10 people indoors or outdoors

  • Check points will be established at interprovincial borders, limiting access to border crossings between Ontario, and Manitoba and Quebec, except for work, medical care, transportation of goods, or exercising Aboriginal or treaty rights

Following the Friday announcement a number of Ontario medical professionals took to social media to respond to the Ford government's latest moves — and most were not happy.

The criticism also extended to other Ontarians, who echoed similar disappointment in the policing powers added by the Ford government and the lack of paid sick leave support.

Even former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has started trending on Twitter, with some people comparing Ford with how Wynne governed the province and speculating about how things could have possibly been different now.