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A vaccination clinic hosted by Humber River Hospital at Downsview Arena in Toronto, capital of Canada's province, Ontario.

Ontario officials reversed new pandemic restrictions Saturday that bolstered police powers to enforce a stay-at-home order and banned playgrounds in Canada's most populous province, one day after Premier Doug Ford announced them to curb surging COVID-19 cases.

Why it matters: There was widespread criticism of the ban and a measure authorizing officers from 12:01 a.m. Saturday to require anyone not at home to provide them with "their home address and purpose for not being at their residence." Several police forces pushed back on the direction.

  • At least 12 police forces said they wouldn't carry out "random stops of people or cars," per AP.

Details: Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said later Saturday police would no longer have this power, but officers would be able to stop people they suspect of taking part in an "organized public event or social gathering," per CTV News.

  • Ford made clear in a in a tweet Saturday that a new rule limiting outdoor gatherings to those in the same household would stand.
  • But he added, "Ontario's enhanced restrictions were always intended to stop large gatherings where spread can happen.
"Our regulations will be amended to allow playgrounds but gatherings outside will still be enforced."
— Ford

What they're saying: The Police Association of Ontario commended the regional government in a statement for amending the "enforcement measures to remove the ability for police & other provincial officers to randomly stop individuals who may be in breach of the stay-at-home order."

  • Canadian Civil Liberties Association executive director Michael Bryant said in a statement the revised order "rationalizes and narrows" earlier measure, which he called "unconstitutional.
  • "The new standard is also tied to a public health objective, and avoids arbitrary detention," he added.

For the record: Ontario entered a four-week lockdown on April 4.

By the numbers: The province reported 4,362 new coronavirus cases Saturday — a day after confirming 4,812 infections, which broke the province's daily record set the previous day of 4,736 cases, CTV News notes.

  • There were 2,065 COVID-19 patients hospitalized Saturday, the most the province has ever reported, including a record 726 in intensive care.

Go deeper

Apr 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

AG Garland reverses Trump-era policy on consent decrees for police abuses

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday reversed a Trump-era policy limiting the use of consent decrees to force changes at police departments and government agencies accused of misconduct.

Why it matters: The move comes in the wake of nationwide protests against police brutality and racism. It also comes "as the Justice Department shifts its priorities to focus more on civil rights issues, criminal justice overhauls and policing policies," AP notes.

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The president of New York City's firefighters union told reporters Wednesday that he's advised unvaccinated members to ignore Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, per Reuters.

Why it matters: Under de Blasio's order that's due to take effect Friday, unvaccinated city employees would be placed on unpaid leave. But Uniformed Firefighters Association head Andrew Ansbro said he told members that "if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," according to Reuters.

3 hours ago - Health

Study: Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization

A COVID-19 intensive Care Unit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on May 27, 2021. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The readily available antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduced COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a large study published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The clinical trial suggests that a cheap, readily available drug could dramatically reduce serious illness and death when prescribed early.