TORONTO (AP) – All schools in Canada’s most populous province will be closed and switch to online learning due to a record number of coronavirus infections fueled by the ultra-contagious variant of omicron, the Premier of Ontario announced on Monday.
Premier Doug Ford also announced the closure of restaurants inside. Gyms and cinemas will also close and hospitals have also been asked to suspend all elective surgeries
Ontario has record new infections, and hospital capacity is cause for concern.
“I know that online learning is not ideal,” said Ford. “The point is, the omicron is spreading like wildfire.”
The reopening of schools has been delayed until at least January 17. Just last week, the government announced that schools would open on Wednesday.
Schools closed for classroom learning last April due to record cases caused by the delta variant. They had since resumed learning in class.
Ford said they expected a “tsunami” of cases and noted that only one percent of 100,000 new cases a day could overwhelm hospitals.
Retail stores will be limited to 50% of their capacity and indoor social gatherings will be limited to five people.
The new measures will begin on Wednesday.
“They had no choice,” said Dr. Andrew Morris, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto and medical director of the antimicrobial stewardship program at the Sinai-University Health Network.
“It was going to be brutal one way or the other. Show me who doesn’t face these realities? Everywhere? ”He said.