The Ford government has extended the province-wide stay-at-home order for another two weeks.
With the new, more contagious variants continuing to pose significant risks, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, confirmed it has extended the stay-at-home order.
Initially slated to finish on Wednesday, May 19, ahead of the Victoria Day long weekend, the latest extension means the order is now set to expire on Wednesday, June 2.
All public health and workplace safety measures under the provincewide emergency brake will also remain in effect.
During this time, the government said it will prepare to administer the Pfizer vaccine to youth between the ages of 12 and 17, beginning the week of May 31, as the province also finalizes plans to gradually and safely re-open the province.
"While we are seeing positive trends as a result of the public health measures put in place, we cannot afford to let up yet,” said Premier Ford.
“We must stay vigilant to ensure our ICU numbers stay down and our hospital capacity is protected. If we stay the course for the next two weeks, and continue vaccinating record number of Ontarians every day, we can begin looking forward to July and August and having the summer that everyone deserves.”
The stay-at-home order was first implemented on April 8 to last six weeks in an effort to curb surging cases and hospitalization rates in the province.
The government said thanks to the collective efforts of Ontarians in following public health and workplace safety measures, the province continues to make "considerable progress" in the fight to control the third wave of COVID-19.
This past week (May 2 to 8), the provincial cases rate decreased by 14.8%, with the positivity rate also reducing to 7.7% compared to 8.6% the previous week. From May 5 to 12, the number of patients with COVID-related critical illness in intensive care has decreased from 877 to 776.
Despite improvements, the province says key indicators remain high and more time is required before the province can safely lift the stay-at-home Order. From May 3 to 9, the provincial cases rate remained very high at 134.9 cases per 100,000 people, and percent positivity was above the high alert threshold of 2.5%. Hospitalization and ICU admissions also remain too high and well above the peak of wave two.
Based on this data, the provincial government said the impacts of the latest measures will continue to be evaluated over the coming weeks, considering the re-opening of outdoor recreational amenities on June 2, subject to current trends continuing.
“Despite the progress we have made in recent weeks in our fight against this virus, we all must remain vigilant, as we are not yet at the point where we can safely exit the Stay-at-Home Order, as our health system remains under significant strain,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health.
“By continuing to strictly follow all measures, we can further reduce transmission of the virus, safeguard hospital and public health capacity, and save lives,” said Dr. Williams.
The announcement comes as Ontario reported 2,759 new cases on Thursday as the provincial total pushed past 500,000 cases. However, active cases, the seven-day average, and patients in ICUs have steadily declined over the last couple of weeks.