As Ontario grapples with surging daily case numbers that are now threatening to swamp hospitals, Premier Ford announced new public-health measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, which includes new restrictions to the construction industry.
During a news conference at Queen’s Park on Tuesday, Premier Ford said the province is issuing a stay-at-home order in addition to declaring the second provincial state of emergency and revealed enhanced enforcement measures to reduce mobility and slow the spread of COVID-19.
Premier Ford said the state of emergency will be in effect for at least 28 days.
"The latest modelling data shows that Ontario is in a crisis and, with the current trends, our hospital ICUs will be overwhelmed in a few short weeks with unthinkable consequences," said Premier Ford.
"That's why we are taking urgent and decisive action, which includes declaring a provincial emergency and imposing a stay-at-home-order. We need people to only go out only for essential trips to pick up groceries or go to medical appointments. By doing the right thing and staying home, you can stay safe and save lives."
Effective Thursday, January 14, at 12:01 am, the government is issuing a stay-at-home order requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for essential work.
The government says this order and other new and existing public health restrictions are aimed at limiting people's mobility and reducing the number of daily contacts with those outside an immediate household. In addition to limiting outings to essential trips, all businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home.
The province has also announced new restrictions for the construction industry.
According to the province, all non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction. However, exempt from this is construction surveying.
As confirmed by the office of the premier, the Ontario government has updated the list of construction projects deemed essential, and that list includes:
The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and the Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA) said they believe the new COVID-19 restrictions are necessary and they will return the construction industry to operating requirements similar to those in place in April 2020.
“The government of Ontario continues to show confidence in the construction industry to operate in a safe environment with the utmost respect for measures to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Dave Wilkes, President & CEO, BILD.
“Our industry and our association will take all necessary steps to make sure that COVID-19 health and safety protocols are maintained at the highest possible levels. We will continue to work with members to remind them of the immense responsibility that comes with Essential Workplace designation under the Emergency Orders.”
Joe Vaccaro, CEO of OHBA says with these new restrictions, the Ontario government continues to make public safety the priority.
"Our industry has a strong record of implementing enhanced protocols under COVID-19," said Vaccaro, adding, "while the new restrictions will slow the delivery of new housing for some projects, case levels have gotten to the point that all sectors and residents must be part of the solution."
"Our members look forward to a time when they can resume full and normal construction levels and continue to serve the residential construction needs of all Ontarians.”
The government will also be enacting the following additional public health measures:
What's more, the province said students will not return to in-person learning in COVID-19 hotspots, including Toronto, Peel, York, Hamilton, and Windsor until February 10.