stay at home order

Health officials are calling for another stay-at-home order in Ontario

Another stay-at-home order is on the table for parts of Ontario as the province navigates its first few days in yet another full shutdown of all public health regions.

Though this iteration of lockdown is similar to the one we weathered in the winter, there are a few notable differences, including the fact that "non-essential" retail stores can remain open with reduced capacities and that an official stay-at-home order has not been issued.

Premier Doug Ford last implemented such an order in January, mandating that people stay home for all but essential purposes such as work, trips to the grocery store or pharmacy, medical appointments and outdoor exercise.

Businesses were told to ensure any employee that could work from home did so, and people were discouraged from traveling, even within the province.

Toronto, Peel and North Bay Parry Sound just got out from under the order on March 8, and now less than a month later, health officials from some regions are calling for it to be re-introduced.

The medical officers of health for Toronto, Peel and Ottawa have written to their provincial counterpart, Dr. David Williams, to ask for another provincewide stay-at-home order to curb virus transmission, especially given the prevalence of new variants of concern.

They've also asked for further restrictions, such as a formal review of which businesses should be permitted to operate — and to what degree — during the 28-day shutdown.

Also, at least a partial closure of schools and the establishment of things like travel restrictions between regions and paid sick days to help people who work in high-risk settings like factories to stay home when sick.

"A stay-at-home order issued by the province through an emergency order is necessary to prevent and mitigate large scale morbidity and mortality and irreparable strain on the healthcare system," the officials write in a letter they've shared publicly.

"Stricter lockdowns have shown to be effective in otherr countries to control transmission while vaccine campaigns progressed to achieve sufficient population coverage to suppress transmission."

But, some residents and authorities alike have wondered how effective our lockdowns are here, even if we make them more stringent and less "leaky" than they currently are.

Some experts have said that people gathering together and partying are not as big of a contributor to virus spread as the public seems to think given how drastically it shames those who defy such rules, and that settings like Amazon warehouses and meat packing plants are of far greater concern.

Lockdowns in countries such as Australia have indeed worked in part thanks to severe travel restrictions, but also because no one but residents have been permitted entry to the country — very much not the case here in Canada, though we have finally imposed  more measures at the border this year.

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert

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