Ford Government Pulls ‘Emergency Break’, Enacts Province-Wide Shutdown
Due to an “alarming” surge in COVID case numbers and hospitalizations across the province, the Ford government has pulled its emergency break and has enacted a province-wide shutdown.
As of Saturday, April 3 at 12:01 am, all of Ontario’s 34 health unit regions will move into shutdown for at least four weeks.
“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 shutdown restrictions 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% capacity limit for supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers’ markets, other stores that primarily sell food and pharmacies, and 25% 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% 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.
All Ontarians are being 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. The province is also asking employers in all industries to make every effort to allow employees to work from home.
“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.
“Implementing a province-wide 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.”
The announcement comes as Ontario reported 2,557 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the eighth straight day in which cases are above 2,000, bringing the provincial total to 352,460. This is also the highest case count since January 22 when 2,662 new cases were reported amid the second wave.
The death toll in the province has risen to 7,389 as 23 more deaths were recorded Thursday.