Second state of emergency implemented in Ontario as coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths hit record levels

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Ontario is implementing another province-wide state of emergency, expanding distance learning only for some elementary school students and cracking down on retail hours as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are reaching record levels.

Premier Doug Ford made the announcement this morning from Queen’s Park and announced the additional measures to help curb transmission of the deadly disease.

Starting Thursday at 12:01 am, the government is issuing a stay-at-home order of at least 28 days requiring everyone to stay at home with exceptions for essential purposes.

“Under this order, everyone will stay home and only go out on essential trips to shop for groceries or go to medical appointments,” Ford said.

“Cases and deaths are the highest since the start of the pandemic and community spread continues to escalate. I don’t blame anyone, only one thing is really at fault and that is the virus, ”he added.

The ordinance aims to reduce the mobility of people and reduce the number of daily contacts with people outside their immediate home.

The state of emergency gives the government the power to enact new measures beyond those included in the provincial lockdown, which began on December 26, 2020.

An emergency order allows the government to close more businesses, ban events and gatherings, and order people to stay home.

This is the second emergency order issued in the province since the start of the pandemic last March. The last one expired on July 24, although many of the 47 emergency orders issued under it remain in effect.

Ford also announced that retailers will be subject to shorter opening hours and that the size of outdoor gatherings will be reduced from 10 to five people, with a few exceptions.

The government also advises non-essential workers who currently work at their workplace to work from home, except in circumstances “where the nature of their work requires them to be on-site at the workplace.”

As for non-essential retail stores, they will be required to close from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. to discourage late-night shopping.

These stores will be allowed to open all of their aisles, despite some reviews suggesting aisles with non-essential items should be blocked off, as this is an unfair advantage for small businesses that were forced to close during the lockdown.

Restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, drug stores, gas stations, convenience stores, and take out or delivery restaurants.

Restricted hours, however, apply to stores offering curbside pickup.

Non-essential construction will also be restricted, including construction below grade, exempt from surveying.

As for restaurants, pickup and delivery will still be allowed throughout the lockdown.

Health services including dental offices, physiotherapy and chiropractors will remain open.

A curfew, similar to what Quebec put in place on Saturday, will not be put in place in Ontario.

The province first declared a state of emergency on March 17, 2020, shutting down much of the province’s economy due to the closure of non-essential businesses, schools, daycare centers and some health services.

The state of emergency officially ended in July after the government passed the Ontario Reopening Act.

Orders under this law must be extended every 30 days, while emergency orders must be extended every 15 days.

In-person learning restrictions

The Ford government has also announced that some public health units (PHUs) will not resume in-person teaching until February 10.

These PHUs include Toronto, Region of Peel, York, Hamilton and Windsor-Essex, which are among the hardest hit areas in the province.

Last week, the government announced that in-person learning for elementary students in southern Ontario would not resume until January 25, two weeks later than the original restart date of January 11. until January 25.

Meanwhile, students in northern Ontario returned to in-person learning on Monday due to declining cases in those areas.

By Jan. 20, the government said the chief medical officer of health will notify the Ministry of Education of BSPs will be allowed to resume teaching in person, based on the latest models.

In addition, new health and safety measures will be implemented for in-person learning, including masking in Grades 1 to 3, wearing a mask outdoors and an improved screening protocol. .

The government said out-of-school child care centers will remain open and emergency child care centers for school-aged children will end in approved BSPs on January 22.

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