Premier Doug Ford announced Wednesday that Ontario will enter a state of emergency for the third time, and the entire province will be put under stay-at-home order for four weeks starting Thursday in the government’s effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, the disease the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus causes.
The stay-at-home order will go into effect on April 8 at 12:01 a.m.
“The COVID-19 situation is at a critical stage and we must act quickly and decisively to stay ahead of these deadly new variants,” Ford said.
“By imposing these strict new measures we will keep people safe while allowing our vaccination program to reach more people, starting with our high risk population and identified hot spots.”
The move, which comes shortly after the “emergency shutdown” announced last week, will require Ontarians to remain at home except for purposes deemed essential, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, exercising close to home, and going to work that cannot be done remotely.
All retail outlets, including malls, will be prohibited to open for in-person shopping and restricted to curbside pickup.
Groceries and pharmacies will remain open for residents to shop indoors.
The same applies to outdoor garden centres and plant nurseries but, those will only be allowed to operate with a 25 percent capacity limit.
Big box retail stores can also remain open for indoor shopping but may only sell groceries, household cleaning supplies, and pharmacy items.
The premier’s office also confirmed that schools and child care centers will not be required to close, except for in Toronto and Guelph, whose public health officials have decided to move their schools to online classes Wednesday, similar to schools in Peel Region who shifted to virtual learning on Tuesday.
Education workers who provide daily support to students with special education needs across the province and education workers in high-risk neighbourhoods in Toronto and Peel will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine during the April break, Ford’s office said.
The province’s previous stay-at-home order went into effect on Jan. 14, and was lifted after almost two months on March 8.
The latest order is expected to last four weeks. This means it will end on May 6 unless it’s extended.