Ontario Announces Provincewide Shutdown Will Start Saturday

Thursday April 1st, 2021

Posted at 2:03pm

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File photo of Premier Doug Ford

The Ontario Government has announced a shutdown for the entire province due to rising COVID-19 numbers.

Effective Saturday April 3rd at 12:01am, Premier Doug Ford says all 34 public Health Regions will move into shutdown for a period of four weeks.

The province says the shutdown will be a “provincewide emergency brake” as a result of an “alarming surge in case numbers and COVID-19 hospitalizations across the province.”

“We are facing a serious situation and drastic measures are required to contain the rapid spread of the virus, especially the new variants of concern,” said Premier Ford. “I know pulling the emergency brake will be difficult on many people across the province, but we must try and prevent more people from getting infected and overwhelming our hospitals. Our vaccine rollout is steadily increasing, and I encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. That is our best protection against this deadly virus.”

The province says the shutdown is justified by the latest modelling that shows from March 26th to 28th, provincial case rates have increased by 7.7 per cent to 101.1 cases per 100,000 people. They say current COVID-19 related ICU admissions are already “over the peak of wave two” and hospitals in regional hotspots will “need to further ramp down scheduled surgeries.”

They say COVID-19 related ICU admissions are projected to exceed 650 beds in a few weeks and that increases are being driven by COVID-19 variants, which are “transmitted easily and result in a higher risk of death and hospitalization, including in younger populations.”

The province says measures under the shutdown include:

  • Prohibiting indoor organized public events and social gatherings and limiting the capacity for outdoor organized public events or social gatherings to a 5-person maximum, except for gatherings with members of the same household (the people you live with) or gatherings of members of one household and one other person from another household who lives alone.
  • Restricting in-person shopping in all retail settings, including a 50 per cent capacity limit for supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers’ markets, other stores that primarily sell food and pharmacies, and 25 per cent for all other retail including big box stores, along with other public health and workplace safety measures;
  • Prohibiting personal care services;
  • Prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments will be permitted to operate by take-out, drive-through, and delivery only;
  • Prohibiting the use of facilities for indoor or outdoor sports and recreational fitness (e.g., gyms) with very limited exceptions;
  • Requiring day camps to close;
  • Limiting capacity at weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies to 15 per cent occupancy per room indoors, and to the number of individuals that can maintain two metres of physical distance outdoors. This does not include social gatherings associated with these services such as receptions, which are not permitted indoors and are limited to five people outdoors.

The province says all Ontarians are asked to limit trips outside the home to necessities such as food, medication, medical appointments, supporting vulnerable community members, or exercising outdoors with members of their household.

But they say the new shutdown is not a “stay-at-home order” due to negative effects on children and adults from previous order.

“Ontario, like many other provinces and jurisdictions around the world, is in the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and immediate action is required to help turn the tide,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, in a news release. “Implementing a provincewide emergency brake was not an easy decision to make and is not one we take lightly. As we continue to vaccinate more Ontarians, the end is in sight, but right now these necessary measures will help to stop the spread of variants in our communities, protect capacity in our health care system, and save lives.”

A full list of restrictions can be found on the province’s website.

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