Ontario declares second state of emergency from COVID-19

Ford Hillier

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is expected to provide an update on the province's COVID-19 vaccination plan one day after new modelling data indicated that despite vaccination efforts, the health system could be overwhelmed and mortality could double if further action isn't taken.

With new orders and mandates being implemented every few weeks, it can be hard to stay up-to-date on what you can and can't do. "Stay home, save lives, protect our health care system".

Under the new order, Ontario residents will be required to stay at home except for essential activities such as accessing health care or shopping for groceries. "In addition to limiting outings to essential trips, all businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home", said the news release.

New restrictions that take effect on January 14 mandate that residents must stay at home except for essential activity, while outdoor gatherings will be limited to five people, and non-essential construction work will be restricted.

The government has also restricted hours of operation for non-essential retailers now offering delivery and curbside pick up to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., and a five-person cap on outdoor social gatherings. These limits don't apply to stores that primarily sell food, gas stations, pharmacies, convenience stores or restaurants providing take-out or delivery.

S. land border will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least February 21 - another 30-day extension to the restrictions in place since mid-March.

Meantime, restoring the province's emergency order gives Ford the authority to close additional businesses, ban events and gatherings, and further emphasize the need to keep people at home with new laws.

Under both acts, fines are subject up to $100,000 and one-year imprisonment, $500,000 for individuals in charge of a business and up to one year in jail.

This means the province has declared a second provincial emergency as defined in the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA).

Whether schools in other areas of the province will re-open for in-person learning as planned on January 25, is not known at this time. He was referring to the briefing Brown provided at Queen's Park on Tuesday morning.

"There will be soon some really dark days ahead, some turbulent waters, but we will get through this", Ford said.

The modelling shows Ontario could have 700 COVID-19 patients in intensive care in the first week of February, and Brown says less optimistic forecasts put that number between 1,000 and 1,500 patients.

The province's chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, says there is also one confirmed infection in a school.

They also fail to implement key policies that could help people stay at home, such as paid sick days, she said.

Anand says it remains possible that Canada could decide to buy the other 36 million doses too.

The government first started administering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the end of December, focusing on four target groups of people: residents, essential caregivers and staff of congregate setting for seniors, health-care workers, adults in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit populations, and adult recipients of chronic home health care.

Yet the daily number of COVID-19 cases has spiked above 3,500 on average over the past seven days, government data showed.



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