State of emergency declared in Ontario
Premier Doug Ford has issued a second state of emergency for the province.
In a news conference at Queen’s Park Tuesday afternoon, Ford said the state of emergency will begin “effective immediately” and a stay-at-home order will also be in place.
“Effective Thursday, January 14, 2021, at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a stay-at-home order requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for essential work. This order and other new and existing public health restrictions are aimed at limiting people’s mobility and reducing the number of daily contacts with those outside an immediate household. In addition to limiting outings to essential trips, all businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home,” a statement from the province read.
The move is in response to the increasing rise of COVID-19 cases, and the premier said it was needed to protect the health care system. The announcement also took place on the same day discouraging projections were released, which indicated that at the current rate of new cases, the daily count of deaths in Ontario could double by mid-February.
“The latest modelling data shows that Ontario is in a crisis and, with the current trends, our hospital ICUs will be overwhelmed in a few short weeks with unthinkable consequences,” said Premier Ford. “That’s why we are taking urgent and decisive action, which includes declaring a provincial emergency and imposing a stay-at-home-order. We need people to only go out only for essential trips to pick up groceries or go to medical appointments.”
New restrictions that have been put into place are similar to those that were in effect in spring 2020. Non-essential retailers like hardware stores, liquor stores, and those offering curbside service or delivery can only be open between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily. This does not apply to grocery stores, convenience stores, or gas stations.
Bars and restaurants are restricted to drive-through, takeout, and curbside service only, with alcoholic beverages available for takeout as long as it accompanies a food order.
Outdoor gatherings are limited to five people at a time, and face coverings are required in public places that are open. This is similar to the guidelines implemented last spring, and the Ministry of Health said this will still allow families and those living in the same household to continue to enjoy time outside.
Schools in Windsor-Essex will be closed for in-person learning until at least February 10. The same goes for schools in Toronto, Peel Region, Hamilton, and York Region. By next week, the province will look at public health units outside those areas where in-person learning can resume.
Child care centres for non-school aged children will remain open, with emergency child care for school-aged children ending January 22 as those elementary schools return to in-person learning. However, in areas where in-person elementary learning is suspended, emergency child care will continue for eligible families in regions subject to school closures.
The Ministry of Labour has begun the “Stay Safe All Day” campaign, which encourages workplaces to ensure employees are following mask and cleaning guidelines at all times, even while in break rooms, company vehicles, or otherwise off-the-clock.
If an employee becomes ill, they may be entitled to federally funded paid sick leave of up to $500 a week for two weeks. Workers can also access Canada’s Recovery Caregiver Benefit of up to $500 per week for up to 26 weeks if they can’t work due to having to care for children under 12 or a family member needing supervised care.
All enforcement personnel will have the authority to temporarily close a premise and disperse individuals who are in contravention of an order and will be able to disperse people who are gathering, according to the province, regardless whether a premise has been closed or remains open such as a park or house.