Ontario to issue four-week stay-at-home order starting Thursday: sources
Announcement expected from premier Wednesday afternoon
By Shawn Jeffords
TORONTO — Ontario will issue a new stay-at-home order Wednesday to try and control a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, sources tell The Canadian Press.
Premier Doug Ford is expected to make the announcement at a news conference this afternoon, and sources say the order will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday morning and last for four weeks.
Stores providing essential goods will remain open during the four-week period, but they will only be permitted to sell grocery and pharmacy items.
The premier hinted at new restrictions coming during a news conference Tuesday, just days after his government imposed a provincewide shutdown.
“I think we made massive moves last week by basically shutting down the entire province,” Ford said. “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.”
Ford’s cabinet made the decision about the stay-at-home order during a meeting Tuesday night.
The move comes days after top doctors of three COVID-19 hot spots — Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa — urged the province to impose tougher restrictions, including a stay-at-home order.
Meanwhile, vaccine appointments for Ontarians aged 60 and older opened in all of the province’s public health units Wednesday morning.
During a media briefing, Peel Region’s medical officer of health, Dr. Lawrence Loh, said the variants of concerns have “won this round” in the province.
“Even if we vaccinated everyone in Peel today, we would still not see changes in our trends for over four weeks,” he said. “That means the second thing that we all need to do right now is to stay home as much as possible.”
Brampton, Ont., Mayor Patrick Brown expressed frustration with the province’s vaccine rollout.
“Vaccinate essential workers, vaccinate essential workers, vaccinate essential workers, we’re ready,” Brown said. “If we don’t focus on where the fire is, we’re going to be in the same predicament.”
The Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters said vaccinating essential workers would help keep workplaces in the province safe and open.
CEO Dennis Darby said Ontario is set to vaccinate those workers in May or June, while American workers in the same setting have largely been vaccinated.
“As a sector that employs over 750,000 essential workers in the manufacturing sector that continue to go to work every day — we must ensure that Ontario uses every resource available to them to increase vaccination rollout,” he said.
Ontario’s health minister said Wednesday that Ontario hit a new record high number for single day vaccinations with 104,382 doses administered the previous day.
“We’re getting needles into arms as quickly and safely as possible and we continue to ramp up capacity,” Christine Elliott said on social media. “Vaccines remain our best defense in the fight against (COVID-19). Please sign up when it’s your turn.”
Also, students at public schools in Toronto started taking classes fully online following an order from the city’s top doctor.
The city’s public health unit said the measure is necessary as new COVID-19 variants pose a greater risk of hospitalization and death.
Classes in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph also moved online Wednesday morning after Peel Region took schools virtual Tuesday.