Ontario is reporting 2,557 COVID-19 cases Thursday with 23 deaths.
Public health restrictions have tightened across Ontario as the province is now under a "shutdown". "We will do whatever it takes to protect the people of Ontario".
"We're now fighting a new enemy, the new variants are far more unsafe than before".
It was just Tuesday that the province forced the Middlesex-London region back into the red-control zone due to climbing cases.
Sources told CBC News that Ford and his cabinet intend to announce a four-week shutdown of the province that will begin on Saturday.
The new restrictions are virtually identical to those now in place in areas already in lockdown.
As of yesterday, there were 430 patients with COVID-19 being treated in intensive care units in the province, according to Critical Care Services Ontario (CCSO), the most at any single point during the pandemic. Essential retail, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, can also stay open, but at 50 per cent capacity.
Capacity at weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites, or ceremonies is limited to 15 percent occupancy per room indoors, and to the number of individuals that can maintain two metres of physical distance outdoors.
During the emergency shutdown, schools will remain open for in-person learning with strict safety measures in place.
While Thursday's measures will force more closures in most parts of the province, measures in hard-hit areas of the Greater Toronto Area remain relatively unchanged, except for restaurant patios closing.
Ford said the measures are being taken as a result of the surge in COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations across Ontario.
When asked about the new restrictions, Ford said early Thursday that it was a "tough decision".
The shutdown comes as Ontario's COVID-19 Science Table released new modeling data on Thursday showing that without a new order, the province will be unable to curb the spread of COVID-19 variants. Someone who catches the dominant B.117 variant is 1.5 times more likely to die.
And as of March 31, there were a record-high 421 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units (ICUs) across the province.
But the province ultimately made a decision to forego a stay-at-home order in favour of the emergency brake shutdown.
Brown says the spread of the variants threatens the province's ICU admissions.
The modelling also shows variants are causing more serious illness in younger people, notably those in their 40s and 50s - something not seen previously during the pandemic.
Ontarians need to limit their movements, especially between regions with different levels of community transmission, said Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health.
He says the province's vaccine rollout is not reaching the highest risk communities, which is delaying its anti-pandemic impact.
Locally, COVID-19 indicators in the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) region have been increasing for several weeks.
The opposition NDP accused Ford of walking Ontario into the shutdown "with eyes wide open".
Ford is scheduled to hold a news conference at 1:30 p.m. ET.
"We are in a desperate race right now against an extremely, extremely aggressive and fast-moving virus. The public health measures fall short of what many experts are calling for".
The last time cases reached this high in Ontario was back on January 17 when 3,422 new infections were reported.
Premier François Legault said he's talking to the Ontario government about limiting travel between Ottawa and the nearby town of Gatineau in Quebec.