'Stark fear' in teachers as many Ontario schools stay open: Secondary School Teachers' Federation CEO
Ontario has announced a province-wide stay-at-home order that goes into effect Thursday.
The province announced the move Wednesday amid rising daily case counts, attempting to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in the province.
The stay-at-home order falls under the state of emergency declaration. On Wednesday, Ford said this will remain in effect for at least four weeks.
“Unless it’s for an essential reason, please stay home because the situation is extremely serious and we just need to hunker down right now, we need to limit mobility,” said Premier Doug Ford in a Wednesday press conference.
The order, which requires every Ontario resident to remain at home except for essential purposes, will halt in-store service for non-essential retailers, while allowing curbside pickup, delivery and online sales. Big-box stores will face new restrictions that limit them to only selling essential items.
Schools across Ontario will remain open under the province’s stay-at-home order unless the local medical officer has decided otherwise.
Ontario Deputy Premier and Health Minister Christine Elliott tweeted earlier Wednesday that the province reported 3,215 new COVID-19 cases, including 1,095 new cases in Toronto.The order was discussed and approved at a cabinet meeting Tuesday night before another meeting to finalize the decision was held Wednesday.
Ford said as long as the province receives its promised COVID-19 vaccine supply from the federal government, 40 per cent of adults will have their first dose by the end of the stay-at home order.
“These next four weeks are absolutely critical,” he said. “We’ve come so far already and we just need to stick together a little longer because hope is on the horizon.”
The stay-at-home order comes on the heels of the province activating its so-called “emergency brake” on April 3, which placed all 34 provincial public health units back into the grey lockdown zone. Under that order, a 50 per cent capacity limit on all retail settings was implemented, as well as a prohibition of personal care services, and outdoor gatherings were limited to no more than five people.
The new measures announced Wednesday go above and beyond restrictions put in place during the first stay-at-home order, which the province implemented Jan. 14 and subsequently extended Feb. 8. That framework triggered backlash from the small business community for allowing big-box stores to sell non-essential wares while smaller stores were limited to online sales and curbside pickup.
The latest clampdown also represents an about-face for the Ford government, which had announced plans to allow personal care services like barbershops and salons in the grey lockdown zone to open on a by-appointment basis April 12. Those plans were scuttled when Ontario’s daily case count began to routinely exceed the 3,000 mark, pushing toward the highest levels of the pandemic.
The continued uncertainty over the timeline of economic reopenings and the loosening of restrictions has drawn the ire of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which estimates the first two shutdowns of the provincial economy resulted in 74,000 permanent small business closures.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misidentified Christine Elliott as Ontario’s finance minister. BNN Bloomberg regrets the error.