Multiple sources have confirmed Premier Ford’s cabinet has approved a provincewide stay-at-home order during a cabinet meeting Tuesday night which would take effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, and last up to four weeks. The move comes after criticism that “emergency brake” measures put into effect over the Easter weekend were not enough to slow the spread of a third wave of COVID-19 hitting Ontario, fueled by variants of concern (VOCs).
Premier Doug Ford is expected to make the announcement at a news conference this afternoon after hinting about new restrictions coming in a news conference Tuesday. “I think we made massive moves last week by basically shutting down the entire province,” Ford said during the news conference. “That was huge, shutting down thousands and thousands of businesses, that I hate doing, but we’re going to have further restrictions moving forward, very, very quickly.”
It is expected that the stay-at-home orders, similar to the shutdown order issued this past January, would only permit stores selling essential goods such as grocery stores and pharmacies to remain open for indoor shopping during the four-week period. Big box retail stores would be restricted to selling only grocery and pharmacy items with garden centres still be permitted to stay open as well.
Top medical officers of health from three of Ontario’s biggest public health units, Toronto, Peel and Ottawa urged the Ontario government over the Easter weekend to impose a stay-at-home order and travel restrictions between regions. Ontario has seen just shy of 15,000 new cases over the past five days and record numbers of people being treated in ICUs, the highest levels since the start of the pandemic. VOCs like B.1.1.7 mean the risk of ICU admission can be 2x as high as the original COVID-19 strain with the risk of death 1.5x higher as younger Ontarians are contracting the virus.
There has been no mention at this point as to whether closure of schools will be part of the provincewide stay-at-home order as the province struggles to contain the quickly spreading COVID VOCs.
SaultOnline/ONNtv will continue to provide more information as it becomes available and tune in to ONNtv as we broadcast this afternoon’s update.