Published: Fri, April 02, 2021
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Ontario will begin third provincial shutdown on Saturday, April 3, 2021

Ontario will begin third provincial shutdown on Saturday, April 3, 2021

Quebec Premier Francois Legault is set to make an announcement this afternoon, and Ontario Premier Doug Ford is urging people to stay home, saying he will make his announcement tomorrow.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Thursday that all 34 on the province's health regions will move into shutdown as of April 3 at 12:01 a.m.

"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 Ford in a news release. "We need more time for our vaccine program to take hold". Today I need to make one of those tough decisions.

As part of the shutdown, it is illegal to gather indoors with anyone you do not live with, people should only leave their residence for necessities such as groceries, work if unable to do so remotely, school, medical appointments, and exercise and physical activity.

Indoor organized public events and social gatherings are not permitted, and outdoor gatherings are limited to no more than five people.

Ford stressed that people should remain within their households for Easter, and also mentioned worship services would still be allowed at 15 per cent capacity. All businesses must screen employees and have a COVID-19 safety plan in place.

Outdoor recreational amenities, such as baseball diamonds, batting cages, tennis courts, basketball courts, horse riding facilities, golf courses and driving ranges and more are permitted to open with conditions.

There will be prohibitions on indoor and outdoor dining, personal care services and sports and recreation services, and restrictions will be introduced for retail settings, and for wedding and funeral services and religious services.

Variants now account for about 67 per cent of all new infections in Ontario, the science table says, and seem to be causing more serious forms of COVID-19 in a younger cohort of people than seen during the first or second waves.

The group says that COVID-19 hospitalizations are up by over 40 per cent over the past two weeks.

The physicians noted that variants of concern have been quickly spreading across Ontario, which has impacted ICU capacity.

"This is a new pandemic. They spread faster and they do more hard than the virus we were fighting past year".

"We're now fighting a new enemy, the new variants are far more unsafe than before".

Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, who presented the modelling data, began by saying COVID-19 is killing people faster and younger and they are seeing entire families ending up in ICU.

He says the province's vaccine rollout is not reaching the highest risk communities, which is delaying its impact as an effective strategy to fight the pandemic.

The last time the province reported a daily case total above the 2,500 mark was on January 22, during the height of the second wave, when 2,662 infections were reported.

The province has already seen record numbers of people admitted to ICUs, with more than 430 patients admitted as of Wednesday.

The current COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open, will be paused when the provincewide emergency brake comes into effect.

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