Ontario extends stay-at-home order

Premier Doug Ford announced tighter COVID-19 restrictions. April 16, 2021. (Capture via CPAC YouTube)

The provincial stay-at-home order will be extended at least another two weeks.

In a news conference Thursday afternoon, Premier Doug Ford announced he will be extending all public health measures until June 2, 2021.

“While we are seeing positive trends as a result of the public health measures put in place, we cannot afford to let up yet,” said Premier Ford. “We must stay vigilant to ensure our ICU numbers stay down and our hospital capacity is protected. If we stay the course for the next two weeks, and continue vaccinating record number of Ontarians every day, we can begin looking forward to July and August and having the summer that everyone deserves.”

Ford said as long as the province stays on this positive trend, outdoor recreation will be able to reopen at the beginning of June.  All other reopenings are still under discussion.

“By then, we will provide more details on our plan to carefully and safely begin to reopen the province, in the days and weeks to follow,” said Ford.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams indicated the health science table would like to see well under 1,000 cases a day throughout the province before lifting any current restrictions.

“We still have a ways to get back down, we didn’t get all the way out of the second wave before we went into the third wave. We do not want to repeat that again,” said Dr. Williams. “If we’re going to open things up, we want to stay open.”

Dr. Williams said they are examining many different metrics this time around with vaccinations increasing and the prevalence of cases involving variants of concern.

“With the variants of concern the hospitalization rate is higher, the ICU rate is double so we have to take that into consideration. The main issue right now is the load on our hospital system,’ said Dr. Williams. “At the same time, we want to see what is going to be the impact of our vaccination on our population at large. Are we going to see a lot more people who have mild symptoms but do not need hospitalization, and are not going to the hospital?”

The government anticipates 65 per cent of all adults in Ontario will be vaccinated by the end of May.

Ford also announced schools will remain online until health experts and teachers unions agree it is safe to return to the class.  To that end, Ford said children between the ages of 12 and 17 and their family members who have not been vaccinated yet will be eligible for vaccines starting the week of May 31, 2021.

“We need public health doctors, teachers, and labour partners to agree on the best path forward and we also need consensus and we simply don’t have that right now,” said Ford.

During the news conference, Ford called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to tighten border restrictions and increase vaccine supply.

“A one-dose summer is just not good enough, if we get the supply we will work our backs off to have a two-dose summer instead of a one-dose summer,” said Ford.