New stay-at-home order issued for Ontario atop existing lockdown restrictions
The Ontario government just officially declared another state of emergency and has issued a new stay-at-home order for the entire province, beginning this Thursday, April 8, as of 12:01 a.m.
Premier Doug Ford announced the news Wednesday afternoon, as expected, stating that "there's no doubt that this third wave has been different from anything we've faced so far. The risks are greater, and the stakes are higher."
Under the new stay-at-home order, which will last for four weeks, all non-essential retailers must close for in-person shopping. Big box stores can stay open with strict safety measures in place, but only for essential items.
Residential evictions are once again banned and all people in Ontario are encouraged to stay at home whenever possible. According to Health Minister Christine Elliott, "access to shopping malls will be restricted to specific purposes."
All restrictions under the current provincewide shutdown will remain in effect as well.
"I can't stress this enough: Things are extremely, extremely serious right now and I'm extremely concerned," said Ford during his press conference, cautioning that admissions to ICUs in the past week have been increasing faster than even the worst case scenario predicted by his own health experts.
"As thing change, as we learn more about these deadly new variants, as we see new problems arise. We need to adapt — we need to move quickly and decisively."
"Above all else, our plan is to get needles into arms and protect our hospitals," said Ford, who then announced the stay-at-home order citing the advice of his Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams.
Under the stay-at-home order— Jennifer Pagliaro (@jpags) April 7, 2021
✅Essential biz only (all other retail must close)
✅Big box stores for essential items only
🚫All other retail
🚫Gyms, rec centres
It's not like we weren't expecting this, but residents of Canada's largest province are reeling a bit given how quickly the rules have been changed once again.
Ontario is less than a week into the latest iteration of a full, provincewide shutdown: The most-current restrictions, which shuttered patios and lowered gathering limits, among other things, only came into effect on Saturday, April 3.
Thursday's move from shutdown to shutdown+stay-at-home will be one of the fastest pivots we've dealt with as a province to date.
Stay-at-home orders were only just lifted in Toronto and Peel on March 5, after all, following a lengthy shutdown that began across the province on Boxing Day.
While they have yet to comment on the restrictions announced today, medical officers of health in Toronto, Peel and Ottawa will no doubt be relieved to learn that something is being done on top of what was announced last Thursday.
These doctors, along with other medical professionals in Ontario, have been warning all week that "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."
"Stricter lockdowns have shown to be effective in other countries to control transmission while vaccine campaigns progressed to achieve sufficient population coverage to suppress transmission," wrote Dr. Eileen de Villa, Dr. Lawrence Loh and Dr. Vera Etches in an open letter to their provincial counterpart on Monday.
The doctors asked for a formal review of which businesses should be permitted to operate during the current four-week-long shutdown, as well as the provision of paid sick days for workers in high-risk settings such as factories and warehouses.
Paid sick time has yet to be offered to people who feel ill and need time off to be tested for COVID-19, but the doctors did get their wish to see a new stay-at-home order implemented.
Whether or not these new measures actually work to slow the spread of dangerous variants and decelerate rising rates of transmission remains to be seen.
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