TORONTO — Canada’s most populous province has imposed a stay-at-home order as coronavirus cases surge, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Tuesday.

The order that takes effect Thursday grants exemptions for essential workers and activities such as health care or shopping for groceries. Police will be able to issue tickets for violations.

Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, said that the province of 14.5 million people could see more than 20,000 new confirmed coronavirus infections a day by the middle of next month unless it curbs the infection rate.

Ontario reported 2,903 new confirmed infections on Tuesday, including eight new cases of a variant from the United Kingdom that is feared to be more contagious than the original strain.

Ford said schools in many regions will remained closed for in-class learning until Feb. 10.

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