Ontario health-care leaders are urgently calling on the provincial government to place, once again, immediate restrictions on non-essential businesses and places where people can gather. 

On behalf of 38 health-care leaders and physicians, the Ontario Hospital Association released a statement Thursday pressing the Ford government to place restrictions on the businesses and places that “facilitate social gatherings and increase opportunities for exposure.”

The statement calls for immediate restrictions on non-essential businesses, such as gyms, dine-in restaurants and bars, nightclubs, and theatres. It also calls on restrictions on other places where people can gather, such as places of worship.

“The province must also ask non-essential businesses to have employees work from home and instruct universities and colleges to offer classes online, wherever possible,” the health-care workers wrote.

The statement, written by specialists in infectious diseases, medical microbiology and infection prevention and control, reported that the seven-day average for cases in the province is approximately 400 cases per day.

“Without immediate action, we know from international experience that this extremely contagious and life-threatening virus will spread rapidly through our schools, long-term care homes, retirement homes and other congregate settings,” the health-care workers warned.

“While maintaining our province's economy is always a priority, we are extremely concerned that, without action, the current rate of spread will require a return to widespread closure of non-essential businesses and schools to prevent a rise in hospitalizations.”

The health-care leaders, mostly from hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area, stated that regions where the speed of transmission was underestimated are “now facing the consequence of increased hospitalization rates, including a rise in intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and more deaths.”

“Now is not the time for hesitancy. We must regain a firm grip on the virus to ensure those who are most susceptible in our province stay protected,” they said.

“Given the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks, and the speed at which this virus spreads, now is the time to put public health measures in place.”