Ford: ‘The decisions we make now … will be the difference between life and death for thousands of people’
TORONTO – Nearly one month to the day of the province’s last stay-at-home order was lifted, the Ontario government has issued a new stay-at-home order.
Premier Doug Ford announced the new order on Wednesday, which comes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, April 8 for four weeks, ending May 7.
The stay-at-home order requires everyone to stay home except for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including vaccination appointments), for outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely.
The province says these measures are being taken in response to the dramatic increase in COVID-19 case numbers, the threat on the province’s hospital system capacity, and the increasing risks of the COVID-19 variants to the public.
According to a press release from the province, COVID-19 hospitalizations in Ontario have increased 28.2 per cent between March 28 and April 5. The number of patients in intensive care units have also increased by 25 per cent during that time.
“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,” said Ford.
“Although this is difficult, I urge everyone to follow these public health measures and together we will defeat this deadly virus.”
The stay-at-home order includes measures that impact retail outlets. Some of those measures include:
- limiting the majority of non-essential retailers to only operate for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., with delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., and other restrictions;
- restricting access to shopping malls to limited specified purposes, including access for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, with one single designated location inside the shopping mall, and any number of designated locations outside the shopping mall, along with other restrictions;
- restricting discount and big box stores in-person retail sales to grocery items, pet care supplies, household cleaning supplies, pharmaceutical items, health care items, and personal care items only;
- permitting the following stores to operate for in-person retail by appointment only and subject to a 25 per cent capacity limit and restricting allowable hours of operation to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. with the delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.:
- safety supply stores;
- businesses that primarily sell, rent or repair assistive devices, aids or supplies, mobility devices, aids or supplies or medical devices, aids or supplies;
- rental and leasing services including automobile, commercial and light industrial machinery and equipment rental;
- optical stores that sell prescription eyewear to the public;
- businesses that sell motor vehicles, boats and other watercraft;
- vehicle and equipment repair and essential maintenance and vehicle and equipment rental services; and
- retail stores operated by a telecommunications provider or service, which may only permit members of the public to enter the premises to purchase a cellphone or for repairs or technical support.
Outdoor garden centres and plant nurseries, and indoor greenhouses will be allowed to remain open with a 25 per cent capacity limit between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
For a complete list of the new restrictions visit covid-19.ontario.ca.
Schools, including those in Huron-Perth and Grey-Bruce, will remain open to students.
During the press conference on Wednesday, Ford reiterated that their data shows schools are safe with very low numbers of transmission and reported cases.
Several health units, including Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, have issued Section 22 orders mandating schools shift to remote learning.
In good news for education workers across the province, starting next week, special education workers across the province – and all education workers in Ontario “hotspots” – can be vaccinated.
Ford also announced on Wednesday the province’s vaccination rollout is ramping up, with clinics immediately addressing COVID-19 hotspots such as the Toronto and Peel regions. Vaccines in those areas will be made available to those 18 and older.
Ford said that as long as vaccine shipments arrive as planned, 40 per cent of Ontarians could be vaccinated by the end of the stay-at-home order.
“Please folks, this is how you can help us,” Ford said, urging all Ontarians to be vaccinated as soon as they are eligible.
Latest case numbers
Ontario reported another 3,215 cases of the virus on Wednesday, the highest single-day total since Jan. 17, during the peak of the second wave. The province also reported 17 COVID-related deaths on April 7.
The seven-day moving average of daily cases climbed to 2,988 on Wednesday, its highest point since Jan. 18.
Locally, eight new cases were reported by the Grey Bruce Health Unit on Wednesday, bringing the number of active cases to 56 in the region.
Huron Perth Public Health reported one new case, in North Perth, on Wednesday to bring the active number of cases in the region to 21.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health reported 21 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the region’s total to 347 active cases. Of the active cases, 10 are in northern Wellington County (Minto, Mapleton and Wellington North).
With files from Chris Daponte, Wellington Advertiser.