The new ordinance will come into effect Thursday and will apply to Toronto and Ottawa. It is the second of its kind since the start of the pandemic.
“Last week I was here and told you our province is in crisis,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said at a press conference in Toronto on Tuesday. “The facts are clear: cases and deaths are the highest since the start of the pandemic and community spread continues to intensify. ”
For at least four weeks, the Ontario government “will require everyone to stay at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or the pharmacy, accessing health services, doing shopping. ‘exercise or perform essential work,’ according to a statement provided to CNN.
All non-essential retail stores and in-person restaurants have been closed in Ontario since Christmas Day and in Toronto since late November. Schools in Ontario hotspots, including Toronto and its suburbs, will not resume in-person learning until at least February 10.
“We need to change our mobility models, too many people have too many contacts. The increase in contact is the result of increased mobility, ”said Christine Elliott, Ontario Minister of Health. “So to break this cycle you have to stay home as much as possible and that starts with a stay home command. ”
Officials have promised strict enforcement of the new restrictions and warned that those who violate the measures could be fined several thousand dollars and face up to a year in prison.
Ontario’s ICUs are already approaching capacity
The second wave of Covid-19 in Canada is now more widespread and more severe than the first, with a seven-day national average of 8,100 new cases per day, a pandemic high, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Ontario public health officials warned at a press conference on Tuesday that one in four intensive care units in Ontario was already full and the hospital system was in danger of being overwhelmed.
Officials also said the UK variant of Covid-19 could become the dominant variant in Ontario in less than two months if left unchecked. The variant is at least 56% more transmissible than previous variants and if allowed to spread it would mean that the vaccines would not have a significant effect on mortality or morbidity, given the current slow pace of vaccine deployment. .
Ontario has reported 14 cases of new variants in the province, but officials said what is more troubling is the discovery of three non-travel-related cases this week, which could indicate the variant is already in the community and spread.
“We have no travel history in three of our cases,” said Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario. “If this is confirmed, we have evidence of community transmission and this is a very serious concern that the vaccine will not be able to treat quickly enough. ”
Earlier Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his government would purchase an additional 20 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, adding that Canada would have at least 80 million doses of the vaccine available by fall. Canada is also currently administering the Moderna vaccine.
Trudeau repeated his promise that all Canadians who wanted the vaccine would be vaccinated by September.
“We are doing everything we can to come up with more doses, to speed up the process,” Trudeau said at a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday. “Because we know that the sooner we get as many Canadians vaccinated as possible, the faster we’ll get through this pandemic. ”
Elizabeth Hartfield of CNN contributed to this report.