The Ontario government announced that Hamilton will be moving to the more restrictive Grey-Lockdown level of the COVID-19 response framework, beginning on Monday, March 29.
"Over the last week, we have continued to see some concerning trends in key health indicators in regions across the province," a statement from Elliott read.
"As we cautiously make targeted adjustments to public health measures to support the wellbeing of individuals and small business owners, it is critical that everyone remains vigilant and continues to strictly follow all public health measures and advice to keep each other safe."
The province is also easing the restrictions within the Grey-Lockdown level, which includes:
Effective Monday, March 29: Outdoor fitness classes, outdoor training for team and individual sports and outdoor personal training will be allowed with a maximum of 10 person limit, every person maintaining a physical distance of at least three metres, and reservations and active patron screening required.
Effective Monday, April 12: Personal care service settings including but not limited to barber shops, hair and nail salons, and body art establishments, will be permitted to operate at 25 per cent capacity or five patrons (whichever is less) by appointment only, subject to physical distancing and other public health and workplace safety measures.
In all levels of the framework, outdoor capacity limits for weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies will be adjusted as of March 29 to allow for any number of people who can be in the setting and maintain a two-metre physical distance.
Ontario is also re-implementing the "shutdown" measure, "if a public health region experiences a rapid acceleration in COVID-19 transmission or if its health system is at risk of becoming overwhelmed."
"Adjusting the emergency brake to allow for the recommendation to immediately implement shutdown measures in regions experiencing a rapid increase in transmission is important given the changes to the public health measures in the Grey-Lockdown level and will provide an extra layer of protection as we continue to fight this virus," a statement from Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health reads.
"While adjustments are being made to the emergency brake and certain public health measures, the latest data continues to show some worrying trends throughout the province, and variants of concern remain a significant threat to public health. That is why it is important that people remain cautious and vigilant in order to minimize the transmission of COVID-19 and protect themselves and their communities."
While the provincial government changes its framework for COVID-19 restrictions, Toronto is expanding COVID-19 vaccine bookings to people 70 and older, beginning at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 27.
"Ontario's vaccine rollout continues to ramp up, and we are getting vaccines in the arms of Ontarians as quickly and safely as possible," a statement from Ontario's Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliot, reads. "We continue to do everything we can to expand our capacity with limited supply and strongly encourage everyone to book an appointment as soon as it's their turn."
The provincial government plans to expand COVID-19 vaccinations to this age group in the "near future."
"We are in a marathon race between the virus and vaccine," Mayor John Tory said at a press conference on Friday. "It is one that the vaccines must win and key to that is your willingness to sing up now to get vaccinated."
"Now is the time to register and to get vaccinated."
This comes after Ontario reported 2,169 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday, including 682 cases in Toronto, 397 in Peel, 254 in York Region, 129 in Ottawa, 123 in Durham and 122 new cases in Hamilton.