Premier Doug Ford pleaded with youth across the province on Tuesday to curb their partying and follow public health rules amid a recent spike in COVID-19 cases among the younger demographic.
A frustrated Ford stressed during his daily pandemic press conference that young people who violate the public health measures are endangering their families, especially their parents and grandparents.
The premier's remarks came as Ontario reported more than 200 new cases of COVID-19 for the first time since late June. Case numbers have climbed in recent days since nearly falling below 100 last week.
The province's health minister said most of the cases reported Tuesday were in people aged under 39 and Ford said he believed the spike could be attributed to a small group.
"The vast majority, 98% of all these young folks, are following protocol procedures and a couple percent are going a little hog wild," Ford said. "Guys, you got to rein it in. Simple as that."
Ford's call comes as the bulk of the province enters the latest phase of the government's COVID-19 economic recovery plan. Two dozen public health regions moved into Stage 3 last week, with another seven poised to join them on Friday.
Under Stage 3 regulations, businesses including bars and restaurants will be able to welcome patrons indoors for the first time in months while still respecting physical distancing.
But in spite of those relaxed rules, private parties should be avoided, Ford said.
The premier also urged families to emphasize the importance of following physical distancing and social bubble rules to their younger members.
He said the province has no current plans to take action against young people who break the rules, such as imposing extra fines.
"I just asked people just hold off on these parties," he said. "I don't know why everyone wants to party so badly, enough. We have to keep this in control."
Health Minister Christine Elliott singled out notable increases in case numbers outside the Greater Toronto Area, including 43 new cases in Ottawa and 24 in the Windsor-Essex region. She said 57 of the new cases were reported in Peel Region, just west of Toronto.
There was one new death reported Tuesday alongside 203 new cases, the highest single-day serge in the province since June 29.
Elliott, who said 57 per cent of Tuesday's new diagnoses came in people under the age of 39, called the latest figures "concerning" and urged Ontario residents to redouble their personal health precautions.
"Ontarians of all ages need to continue to adhere to public health guidelines," she wrote in a tweet. "Maintain only one social circle of 10 people, physically distance with anyone outside of it and wear a face covering when doing so."
The total number of cases in the province now stands at 37,942, which includes 2,753 deaths and 33,605 resolved cases.
There were 92 resolved cases newly reported on Tuesday, meaning new cases have outpaced newly resolved cases for multiple days in a row.
-with files from Salmaan Farooqui.
Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press