QUEEN’S PARK – Unless Ontarians need to get groceries, go to school, or go to work, they are to stay at home beginning April 8th for the next 28 days. Premier Doug Ford announced the move Wednesday afternoon, along with declaring a State of Emergency.
“The COVID-19 situation is at a critical stage and we must act quickly and decisively to stay ahead of these new variants,” Ford said during the announcement. He added that ICU admissions have increased higher than the “worst case” projections issued last week by the provincial COVID-19 Science Table.
According to the province, hospitalizations have increased by over 28 per cent in the past week.
Beginning tomorrow (April 8) at 12:01 a.m, a province-wide Stay-at-Home order will require everyone to remain at home except for essential reasons. These include going to grocery stores, pharmacies, accessing health care services, getting vaccinated, outdoor exercise, or for employment reasons where work cannot be done remotely.
Non-essential retailers will move back to curbside pick-up and delivery. Grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores will remain open with restrictions on operation put in place last week when the Ford government announced its “Emergency Brake” measures.
Big box and discount retail stores are limited to selling grocery items, pet care supplies, pharmaceutical items, health care items, personal care items and household cleaning supplies.
Shopping malls are closed except to facilitate curbside pick-up from retailers inside.
Appointment only retail is allowed at safety supply stores, stores that primarily sell medical aides like hearing aids and supplies, automobile rental and leasing, opticians, vehicle sales, boat and watercraft sales, vehicle repair, and telecommunications providers.
Outdoor garden centres and plant nurseries, and indoor greenhouses are allowed to remain open with 25 per cent normal occupancy limits and limited hours.
Last week, when the provincial government enacted its “Emergency Brake”, golf courses and driving ranges were allowed to stay open. It is unclear if the Stay-at-Home order will close courses.
Schools remain open to in-person learning
Schools will remain open the rest of this week except where local public health units have issued Section 22 orders to close them. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit said earlier this week that schools would remain open. Daycare centres will remain open as well.
Next week is Spring Break. No decision has been announced for in-person or remote-learning when school returns after next week.
More vaccinations starting next week
Vaccinations will begin next week in “hot-spot” areas in Ontario. Education workers who work with special education needs across the province will begin to be vaccinated, as will all education workers in hot spots in priority neighbourhoods in Toronto, Peel, York, Hamilton, Ottawa, Halton, and Durham regions. The EOHU region is not part of this program.
The province is moving into Phase Two of its distribution plan for vaccines. People in areas with the highest transmission rates will be prioritized, beginning with at-risk people in Peel and Toronto areas.
The State of Emergency and Stay-at-Home orders will remain in effect until May 5th.