Yesterday Premier Doug Ford hinted that tougher restrictions would be coming after doctors in Toronto, Peel, and Ottawa asked for the stricter measures.
It is expected that the stay-at-home orders, similar to the shutdown order issued this past January, would only permit stores selling essential goods such as grocery stores and pharmacies to remain open for indoor shopping during the four-week period.
Officials said the province would also expand booking for COVID-19 vaccine appointments to people aged 50 and over in high-risk neighbourhoods starting Friday.
This is the third state of emergency in Ontario since the pandemic began.
Toronto and Peel Region schools are now closed until at least April 18 after the local medical officers of health in both regions used their powers under the Health Promotion and Protection Act this week to suspend in-person learning. This initiative will be expanded to additional "hot spot" regions based on established patterns of transmission, severe illness, and mortality. The province will provide additional resources to support these mobile and pop-up clinics in the hardest-hit neighbourhoods.
The London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) says it is handling nine staff and 27 inpatients positive for COVID-19, with 12 in intensive care. 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.
Last week the province's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table recommended the move due to the surge in variants of the virus. Approximately 5.4 million rapid antigen tests have been sent to over 1,150 workplaces, including 100 essential industry sites, under the Provincial Antigen Screening Program.
Case rates, hospitalizations, and ICU occupancy are increasing rapidly across the province, threatening to overwhelm the health care system as a whole.