The Ontario government is considering extending the stay-at-home order across the province after being urged to do so by public health officials, sources tell CTV News Toronto.
Premier Doug Ford met with his cabinet on Friday to discuss what measures need to be taken to control the spread of COVID-19 in the province and an official announcement is expected next week.
Sources said Ford's cabinet was urged by public health officials to extend the stay-at-home order for at least one more week – until Feb. 16 – across the entire province, while pushing it an additional two weeks – until Feb. 22 – in Toronto, Peel Region and York Region amid concerns over the spread of the U.K. variant.
It's unclear what, if any, decisions have been made or finalized.
Ontario's state of emergency and stay-at-home order are currently set to expire on Feb. 9. Sources said while the stay-at-home order could be extended, the government would allow the state of emergency to expire.
Ontario declared a state of emergency on Jan. 12 and two days later put a stay-at-home order in effect.
The government announced on Jan. 25 that the state of emergency and stay-at-home order had been extended for an additional 14 days. The announcement of the 14-day extension was expected since Ford said the state of emergency would be in effect in for a least 28 days.
A state of emergency in Ontario must be legally extended by the government 14 days after it comes into effect. After the 28-day period, it requires legislative approval to be extended.
In an exclusive interview on Friday, Health Minister Christine Elliott told CTV News Toronto that the province is looking at a careful reopening of the economy.
"When that stay-at-home order ends, then the transition back into opening back the economy has to be really carefully done or our numbers could go up again exponentially especially with the U.K variant," Elliott said.
Elliott also expressed hope that the pandemic-related lockdowns are in the rear-view mirror.
"We don't want to have to go into another lockdown another stay-at-home order," Elliott said.
Since the lockdown came into effect, COVID-19 cases have declined, although public health officials have said the spread of more contagious variants of COVID-19 are a concern.
On Friday, Ontario reported 1,670 new cases of COVID-19, though that number may be inflated due to an overestimation in Toronto's count due to a data migration issue, the government said.