Ford breaks quarantine to have kids over
Premier Doug Ford put forward some mixed messaging on social distancing, saying he's had his four daughters over to his place, minus their significant others. Along with Ford's wife, that would break the maximum five-person gathering rule under the province's emergency orders.
When asked whether this meant Ontarians were allowed to gather in groups larger than five, he said people should use their "best judgement."
"Well, from the chief medical officer, right now, he still wants to keep it immediate family. And I have two girls living with me, two not living with me, so I had two more there. But when it comes to seniors and our parents, use your best judgement. The best thing to do is protect your parents," he said at his daily press conference.
"I really trust the judgement of the people of Ontario. If you have an elderly mother or father, and their health isn't great, I wouldn’t chance it," he said.
Ontario's chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, said his advice was still to comingle only with people in one's own direct household. However, he refused to weigh in on the premier's family visit and his responses to multiple questions from reporters were less than clear.
“Yes, that's been our recommendation, is that in your bubble, pod, whatever people call them, is that you've had this unit that you — whether it's individual, a single person, or a couple, a partner, or a family, and some families have three or four or five, a few have six I think, and so they try to do that, they go out together, they walk together with that one there, and we say that's okay, because you have that group of five walking together. Outside of that, we have not yet opened up that proviso up yet and how that might work,” he said, and added there is a need for accurate contact tracing.
Williams said it was difficult to know whether Ford had done anything wrong without knowing all the details, such as whether the family members stayed six feet away from each other for the entire visit.
University of Toronto epidemiologist Dr. David Fisman said the mixed messages from the province were "a little" concerning.
"I am concerned about lack of discipline and patience generally," he said. "The premier has been a terrific leader, but he's also a role model, and the slips with the cottage and the family have a bit of a 'distancing for thee but not for me' feel to them, in my opinion."
Fisman added, "As a divorced dad who hasn’t seen my kids except by FaceTime since March 14, it’s a bit hard for me to swallow."
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said certain political leaders have created "confusion" and "uncertainty" with their messaging.
"I know people really want to get together with their loved ones they haven't seen in a long time...but it still isn't being recommended for the public," she said.
"The advice was a bit unclear," she added, seeming to criticize the guidelines from the medical officer of health.
Overall test results in the province "continue to go in a good direction," Williams said, with new cases hovering around 300 per day for the past few days. There have been 20,546 total cases in Ontario since the beginning of the outbreak, with 15,131 of those resolved and 1,669 deaths.
The Ford and the Furious
Ford expressed his disappointment after a 19-year-old was charged for allegedly hitting speeds of 308 km/h on the Queen Elizabeth Way.
He said he would support increasing the automatic license suspension and vehicle impounding from seven days to 30 for people caught stunt driving. He said it should be even longer than 30 days in this case.
“I didn’t even realize a car could go 306 kilometres an hour — 200 kilometres over the speed limit? No, that is just totally irresponsible and not safe," Ford said. “And you've got to throw the book at these people because they’re putting everyone's lives in jeopardy when they do something that reckless and careless.”
“But you know something? Thank God he’s alive, and thank God his friend’s alive. That's the most important thing,” he added.
Good things stowed in Ontario
Ford said he'll "always respect" free trade agreements, but promised to increase domestic supply of personal protective equipment so "we'll never be in this position again" — that is, scrambling, along with the rest of the world, for masks and gowns in short supply.
The premier said he'll make sure Ontario has its own stockpile of protective equipment aside from the federal one.
"Well, I have to take care of Ontario and I'll make sure it never happens again, that we have a stockpile, and we'll have that conversation with the federal government," he said.
Child care and school announcements coming soon
Ford said announcements on the return of child-care and school are coming "early next week."
With files from David Hains