Ontario has issued a new stay-at-home order today to fight an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases fuelled by variants of the virus.
Premier Doug Ford says the order will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday morning and last for four weeks.
He says the province will declare its third state of emergency of the pandemic to invoke the new measures.
Ford says stores providing essential goods will remain open during the four-week period, but they will only be permitted to sell grocery and pharmacy items.
Ford says the new measures are necessary to fight the third wave of the pandemic that threatens to overwhelm the health-care system.
The new restrictions follow a decision last week to impose a four-week provincewide shutdown that put an end to short-lived indoor and outdoor dining and lowered capacity for retail establishments as well as indoor and outdoor gatherings.
Highlights of Ontario’s new stay-at-home order:
Non-essential retailers are limited to curbside pick-up and delivery between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Delivery is permitted between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Outdoor garden centres, plant nurseries and indoor greenhouses can open for retail sales with a capacity limit of 25 per cent.
Access to shopping malls is limited to curbside pickup and only by appointment.
In-person sales at discount and big box stores are limited to necessary goods like groceries, household cleaning supplies and pharmacy items.
Certain retail stores can open for in-person, appointment-only sales between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., up to 25 per cent capacity.
Those businesses include:
– safety supply stores
– businesses that sell, rent or repair medical devices and other aids
– rental and leasing services for vehicles, machinery and other equipment
– stores that sell prescription eyewear
– businesses that sell vehicles, boats and watercraft
– vehicle and equipment repair services
– telecommunications service stores offering repairs and technical support
Schools will remain open during the stay-at-home order, except where local public health units have ordered them to close.
The province says new measures will be introduced following the spring break next week, including:
– asymptomatic testing at assessment centres between April 12 and April 18
– confirmation of self-screening for COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival to school
– refresher training on safety protocols for students and staff.
The province says it’s also encouraging outdoor education where possible.
The province says health and safety inspections will increase in essential businesses, focusing on regional hot spots for infection.
Employers in regions with high transmission rates will be contacted about expanding rapid COVID-19 testing in workplaces.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2021.
The Canadian Press