On Saturday, Premier Ford rolled back the number of people allowed at unsupervised gatherings to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors across the province.

This move, which does not affect events or gatherings held in staffed businesses or facilities, like bars or restaurants, is aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 as Ontario has reported anywhere from 210 to 448 new cases of COVID-19 this past week.

Many residents of northwestern Ontario have wondered why this policy was enacted province-wide, when our health until catchment area has only reported 50 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began and currently has three active cases of the virus.

Greg Rickford, MPP for the Kenora-Rainy River district, says the province-wide restrictions are about ensuring capacity remains high in our health care facilities if there was a resurgence of COVID-19.

“Our risk profile has never been as much about the number of people who were actually COVID positive. It is what would happen if those numbers took off.”

MPP Rickford noted that our hospitals do not have the capacity that is found in larger urban centres and therefore would take fewer serious cases to overwhelm the system.

On Wednesday, the province reported 335 new cases of COVID-19, most of which are in Toronto, Ottawa and the Peel region. MPP Rickford says that 65% of the new cases are people under 40 and the resurgence is being driven by private gatherings that have gotten too large.

“25 and 10 is the equation. For now, we need to be consensus of the fact if we have social gatherings outside of those numbers, 10 indoors and 25 outdoors, we are putting each other at risk and for that reason we made the decision to apply that rule across the province.”

The province has also announced hefty fines for those caught breaking the new social gathering limits. Organizers face a minimum fine of $10,000, while those attending will face a $750 fine.