Ontario issues stay-at-home order to stop spread of COVID-19
Ontario's provincial government has formally declared a second State of Emergency in response to fast-rising rates of COVID-19 among residents, triggering a host of new public health restrictions including a mandatory "stay-at-home" order.
Effective Thursday, January 14, at 12:01 a.m., a stay-at-home order will be in place "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."
All businesses must futhermore ensure that any employee who can work from home does work from home, and limit outings only to essential trips. Outdoor gathering limits have been lowered to a maximum of five people and all non-essential retail stores must now close by 8 p.m. each evening.
"My friends, I know that the stay at home order is a drastic measure, one we don't take lightly," said Premier Doug Ford, who noted that his government debated the move for more than five hours on Monday evening.
"Everyone must stay home to save lives. I couldn't be any clearer."
In addition to handing down additional provincewide lockdown restrictions, Ford said that enforcement and inspections will also increase. Offenders can face penalties of up to a year in prison.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announces province-wide measures:— CPAC (@CPAC_TV) January 12, 2021
— State of emergency declared
— Stay-at-home order effective 12:01 am Thurs; only essential trips allowed
— Schools: no in-person classes in Windsor, Peel, Toronto, York, Hamilton until Feb 10#cdnpoli #onpoli #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/Lr8WSWpjdu
"Under the declaration of a provincial emergency, the province will provide authority to all enforcement and provincial offences officers, including the Ontario Provincial Police, local police forces, bylaw officers, and provincial workplace inspectors to issue tickets to individuals who do not comply with the stay-at-home-order, or those not wearing a mask or face covering indoors," reads a press release issued by the province on Tuesday.
"In addition, 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, regardless whether a premise has been closed or remains open such as a park or house."
The announcement comes as a highly-contagious new variant of COVID-19 from the U.K. begins to spread in Ontario, which has reported 4,983 deaths related to the virus since the pandemic first hit.
"The very dangerous U.K. strain of COVID is being found across the province. Ontario had eight new cases confirmed today, and if we don't move fast, our hospital ICUs could be overwhlemed by the first week of February," said Ford.
"The system is on the brink of collapse. It's on the brink of being overwhelmed. We're at levels we've never seen before."
The State of Emergency will remain in place for at least 28 days, according to government officials, and is meant to help stop the spread of COVID-19 "by reducing concerning levels of mobility as the province continues its vaccine rollout and ramps up to mass vaccination."
Premier of Ontario
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