Multi-platform author, CTV News Toronto
Ontario has declared its third state of emergency since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and will implement a nationwide stay-at-home order starting Thursday.
The home stay order will take effect on Thursday at 12:01 p.m. and last for 28 days.
« I cannot stress this enough. Things are extremely, extremely serious right now. And I am extremely concerned, » Ford told reporters at a press conference that afternoon.
« The situation is moving quickly, hour by hour. And as things change and we learn more about these deadly new varieties and new problems arise, we have to adjust. We have to move quickly and decisively. And now, our plan is above all, getting needles in our arms and protecting our hospitals. That is why I declare a state of emergency today on the advice of the Chief Health Officer. «
During this time, all non-essential retailers will be close to personal shopping, personal eating will be banned, and gyms and personal care services will be closed. Retailers can offer roadside pickup and delivery services between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Big box stores are only allowed to stay open to sell important goods. Shopping centers can only be picked up from the roadside by appointment and delivery.
A selected group of shops may only remain open by agreement with a capacity restriction of 25 percent. This includes security specialty stores, companies primarily selling, renting, or repairing aids, rental and leasing services including automobiles and equipment, optical stores selling prescription glasses, companies selling automobiles and boats, vehicle and equipment repairs, and retail stores selling operated by a telecommunications provider or services.
In addition to the closure of most businesses, staying at home makes it illegal to leave your place of residence, except for essential reasons such as work, school, trips to a grocery or pharmacy, and health reasons.
« To make it as easy as possible, please stay home unless there is a substantial reason, » added Ford. “The situation is extremely serious and we just have to squat down now, we have to restrict mobility.
The province will not close schools and childcare facilities for the entire stay at home, although three of the province’s public health units, Toronto, Peel Region and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph have already done so.
« There will be no school closings, » Education Minister Stephen Lecce told CP24 on Wednesday morning. « It was our promise to keep schools open and protect them. »
The stay at home order comes after the province closed on Saturday, which closed all personal restaurants, fitness facilities and personal care services. All retail stores were allowed to remain open with strict capacity limits.
Officials at the time said they had not issued a home stay order as it « had a tremendous negative impact on both children and adults ».
Since then, the Ford government has been criticized by hundreds of doctors and health officials in Ontario for not going far enough to contain the spread of COVID-19 variants.
On April 4, Toronto Medical Health Officer Dr. Eileen de Villa, the Peel Region’s Medical Health Officer, Dr. Lawrence Loh, and Ottawa Medical Health Commissioner Dr. Vera Etches, a letter to the province asking them to make a nationwide stay – order home.
The province’s COVID-19 science advisory table also found that an order to stay at home was one of the measures needed to control the spread of the variants. Even with an order at home, according to the table, up to 800 COVID-19 patients could be treated in intensive care units (ICU) in Ontario by the end of April.
The last time the province issued a stay at home was in January after the winter break.
On Wednesday, the province confirmed 3,215 new cases of COVID-19, as well as 17 more deaths. The province’s seven-day average for the number of registered cases is now 2,987 compared to 2,316 a week ago.
Full coverage at CTVNews.ca/Coronavirus
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