Ontario issues stay-at-home order
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced he has issued a stay-at-home order for all Ontario residents starting at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.
“The Covid-19 situation is at a critical stage and we must act quickly and decisively to stay ahead of these deadly new variants,” said Premier Ford. “By imposing these strict new measures we will keep people safe while allowing our vaccination program to reach more people, starting with our high risk population and identified hot spots. Although this is difficult, I urge everyone to follow these public health measures and together we will defeat this deadly virus.”
Case rates, hospitalizations, and ICU occupancy are increasing rapidly across the province, threatening to overwhelm the health care system as a whole. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the province has increased by 28.2 per cent between the period of March 28 and April 5, 2021.
“The capacity at the ICUs and these variants have taken off even beyond what [the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table] told us and the second I found out yesterday, immediately, I asked them to start writing up the orders,” said Premier Ford.
Across the province, there were 1,397 people receiving treatment in a hospital for COVID-19 on Wednesday, an increase of 236 patients from the day before. Of those, 504 are in intensive care units.
As part of the state of emergency order, non-essential retail stores will only be allowed to offer curbside pickup and delivery. Big-box stores will be allowed to sell essential items only like food, pharmacy items, household cleaning supplies, personal care supplies, and pet care supplies.
Access to malls will also be restricted under the latest order. It will be limited to access for curbside pick-up and delivery by appointment with one single designated location inside the shopping mall.
Limited retail stores, like outdoor garden centres, safety supply stores and businesses that sell vehicles will be allowed to operate at 25 per cent capacity between 7 a.m.and 8 p.m.
Schools and child care will remain open for in-person care and learning in public health regions where it is permitted, with strict safety measures in place.
“Our government is on the side of parents, students and medical experts who want in-person learning protected. As confirmed by Premier Ford today, schools will remain open throughout the stay-at-home order, with stronger health and safety protocols in place and accelerated access to the vaccine for education staff,” said Minister of Education Stephen Lecce.
Ford also announced special education workers across the province and teachers in hotspot areas in Toronto and Peel will be vaccinated starting next week. This will be expanded to other hot-spot locations as supply becomes available.
The government estimates 40 per cent of adults in Ontario will be vaccinated by the end of the 28-day stay-at-home order if the supply stream is maintained at expected levels.