Published: Wed, January 13, 2021

Ontario issues stay-at-home order, second state of emergency over COVID-19

Ontario issues stay-at-home order, second state of emergency over COVID-19

On Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford declared a second state of emergency and as of 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, the province will be enforcing a stay at home order.

"And at this point, as I said, three of our cases we don't have a travel history. By doing the right thing and staying home, you can stay safe and save lives", a government release said.

There are also growing concerns regarding the United Kingdom variant of COVID-19, which has been detected parts of Canada, including Ontario, which deteced eight new cases on Tuesday.

Premier says he "couldn't be any clearer" as worst-case scenario predicts 15,000 cases a day. Nearly 200 long-term care residents and two staff have died this month, more than 400 people are in ICUs and that could rise to as many as 1,000 early next month.

Schools in Toronto (as well as Windsor-Essex, Peel Region, York and Hamilton) will remain closed for in-person learning until at least February 10.

"It's not a matter of if this new strain takes hold, it's a matter of when it takes hold and how far it spreads", Ford said.

What does a "stay at home" order mean?

"Back in March and April, the streets were empty down here", Ford said, adding according to ministry of transportation data, mobility downtown has increased to levels closer to what it was like before the lockdown.

"Please be part of the solution", she continued, "Stay home".

Also commenting at the Tuesday event was Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones who said the idea of the emergency declaration is to have people live by the restrictions of no more than five persons (beyond your family) at any gathering and to avoid any non-essential travel.

Big box stores will be subject to random inspection to ensure premises quotas remain within authorized limits. The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery.

Other public health restrictions under the state of emergency include halting all non-essential construction work, limiting outdoor gatherings to fewer than five people, and non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m.

Meanwhile, the president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business expressed disappointment in the new limited hours for small retailers. He said a curfew would be too much like a police state. Seventy staff members also tested positive, but most have recovered.

Deaths continue to spike in long-term care with 198 residents and 2 staff dying of the virus since January 1.

However, that was not one of the new measures introduced.

"We aren't going to duplicate areas of support", Ford said, alluding to the federal government's Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, which provides $500 per week ($450 after taxes are withheld) for up to two weeks to eligible workers. "We're going to be there for the people in all different types of fashions, no matter if it's making sure that people can't be evicted from their homes, making sure that we give $200 to parents for every child that is in school, we're keeping the electricity rates low". "People will die from the virus itself and from the overloaded health system that is unable to respond to their needs".

The province is also issuing a stay-at-home order, effective Thursday.

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