The Ford government is putting in place an “emergency brake” starting Saturday that will be in place for at least four weeks and will force some non-essential services to shut down, including in-person meals, personal care services such as barbers and nail salons, and gyms.
The lockdown, similar to the current restrictions in the gray area, will see essential stores – such as grocery stores and pharmacies – remain open at 50% of capacity.
Non-essential retail can operate at 25% capacity.
Some outdoor activities will be permitted such as golf, but team sports will not be permitted.
“My friends, right now we are in a third wave of COVID-19. The worrisome variants are spreading quickly, ”Premier Doug Ford said.
“It’s a new pandemic. We are now fighting a new enemy.
Public indoor events and social gatherings are prohibited, and capacity for public outdoor events or social gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 5 people.
This excludes gatherings with members of the same household or gatherings of members of one household and another person from another household who lives alone.
Indoor and outdoor meals will no longer be allowed from Saturday. Take-out and delivery, however, remain an option.
The capacity during weddings, funerals and religious services, rites or ceremonies is limited to 15% occupancy per room inside and to the number of people who can maintain a physical distance of two meters outside.
Six regions are already in Gray-Lockdown, including Toronto, Peel and Hamilton, while another 16 are in the Red Control Zone when it comes to provincial restrictions.
Asked about the new restrictions, Ford said Thursday morning that it was a “difficult decision”.
“We’ll make the tough decision, but it’s the right decision. One thousand percent is the right decision, ”said Ford.
“We are facing a serious situation and drastic measures are needed to contain the rapid spread of the virus, in particular the worrying new variants. I know it will be difficult for many people across the province to pull the emergency brake, but we must try to prevent more people from becoming infected and overwhelming our hospitals.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said it was not a stay-at-home order, saying the latest had “enormous adverse effects on children and adults.”
“Putting in a province-wide emergency brake was not an easy decision to make and it is not a decision we take lightly,” said Elliott.
“As we continue to immunize more Ontarians, the end is in sight, but for now, these necessary steps will help stop the spread of variants in our communities, protect the capacity of our health care system. health and saving lives.
The government says employers in all sectors should do everything possible to allow employees to work from home.
“If we don’t think about this and act, we will have serious problems,” the Prime Minister continued.
Earlier this week, the president of the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) said hospitals had reached an all-time high with at least 421 COVID-19 patients currently in intensive care units across the province .
More than 150 doctors in intensive care units on Thursday signed an open letter to the government, calling for new, stricter measures.
“The current measures and framework are not working to contain the spread of this virus,” the letter reads in part. “Even if we had unlimited intensive care capacity, allowing these (worrisome variants) to spread exponentially is unethical.”
Immediate restrictions beyond the current framework are needed to protect Ontarians from variant Wave 3. pic.twitter.com/TmCKPlHj07
– Michael Warner (@drmwarner) 1 avril 2021
The letter says doctors are seeing younger patients on ventilators and many are parents of school-aged children.
He notes that people admitted to intensive care either contracted COVID-19 at work or followed all the rules and only went out for groceries.
Ontario science advisers confirm disturbing trend, saying on Thursday that strict and home keeping orders are needed to control the third wave of COVID-19 in the province.
Without these measures, the Ontario Science Advisory Table said the province could see as many as 6,000 new cases of infection by mid-April.
RELATED: Ontario Schools To Stay Open, April Vacation Continues, Lecce Says
The scientific consultation table also suggested that limiting interprovincial travel – similar to the one that was imposed in January and expired in mid-February – would help reduce the number of new cases.
“Our vaccine rollout is steadily increasing and I encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. It is our best protection against this deadly virus, ”added the Prime Minister.
Advisors said the new pandemic modeling indicates the third wave is driven by more lethal variants.
Dr Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the group, says short-term infections depend on public health measures and vaccination rates.
He says the vaccine rollout in the province is not reaching the communities most at risk, delaying its anti-pandemic impact.
Last week, the Ford government announced a series of changes to its COVID-19 framework that are expected to reopen personal care services such as hair and nail salons.
Outdoor fitness classes also resumed briefly in areas below the gray zone.
RELATED: Restaurants, Small Businesses Demand Compensation As Ontario Enters Another Lockdown
Ford defended his decision at the time, saying he was “very, very worried”, adding that “we are relaxing things, just a little”.
On March 19, the province announced that restaurants operating under “Red-Control” and “Orange-Restrict” could open with a capacity of 50 percent and a maximum of 50 and 100 people indoors.
The current COVID situation in Ontario (and frankly much of Canada) reflects a complete and utter abdication of responsibility for the health and well-being of our public.
It is a tragic and unequivocal failure, fertilized by the repeated rejection of scientific evidence.
– Andrew Morris (@ASPphysicien) 1 avril 2021
The Premier’s change of course shows how the worrisome variants pose a threat to the province’s ability to contain and control a third wave of the virus.
The education minister confirmed that schools will remain open across the province until further notice.
Stephen Lecce, who says “students deserve to be in the classroom,” sees the decision as critical to student mental health.
The Ford government has been criticized for its inability to offer support to essential workers, especially teachers, in COVID-19 hot spots, including paid sick days.
Unifor has urged all provinces to impose paid holidays to allow workers to get vaccinated when it is their turn to do so.
“While some good employers are already doing it, most don’t and won’t do it unless [the] the government is forcing them to do the right thing, ”Unifor National President Jerry Dias said Thursday.
Unifor is the largest private sector union in Canada, representing 315,000 workers in all major sectors of the economy.
Ontario is reporting 2,557 COVID-19 cases on Thursday with 23 deaths.
The seven-day average is 2,341 cases per day and 113 per week per 100,000.