The Ford Government will impose tough new restrictions amid ballooning case counts across Ontario.
Premier Doug Ford announced on Friday that his government is extending the current stay-at-home order for another two weeks out, meaning a six-week order instead of four.
Residents must remain at home at all times, except for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for essential work. Employers are required to ensure all staff who can work from home do so.
Under these new measures, police services have been granted further temporary powers. This includes the ability to stop and ask a resident why they are out of their home and inquire as to their home address. Police now have the power to stop a vehicle and ask why the occupants are not at their residence. “We’re taking decisive action on the ground to dramatically step-up enforcement,” said Premier Doug Ford on Friday. “We have made the difficult but necessary decision to give police and bylaw officers special authority to enforce public health measures for the duration of the stay-at-home order.”
As of Saturday, all outdoor social gatherings and organized public events are prohibited. This does not include members of the same household. A person who lives alone is permitted to join one other household.
All non-essential construction job sites will be shut down as of Monday.
The province is imposing a capacity cap of 10 people at places of worship, weddings, or funerals. Further capacity limits are being placed on essential retailers, with big box stores limited to 25 per cent of capacity.
Golf courses must close under these new regulations, as must outdoor basketball, soccer or tennis facilities.
Checkpoints will be set up at all provincial border crossings with Manitoba and Quebec to restrict interprovincial travel.
The premier says Ontario is increasing vaccine supply to hotspots by 25 per cent and is calling on the Federal government to dramatically increase the number of vaccines to Ontario. “We need the vaccines now, I can’t emphasize that enough, we need vaccines now,” says Ford.
“The rising spread of variants means we must take stronger measures to limit transmission and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “As we continue to work to vaccinate those in the areas with the highest rates of transmission, everyone must adhere to public health measures and stay at home as much as possible to protect capacity in our health system and the health of thousands of Ontarians.”
Friday’s announcement came less than two hours following the release of stark new modelling data that indicates a worst-case scenario Ontario could see 18,000 new cases per day by mid-June if further measures aren’t taken. The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory table stated that the only way to flatten Ontario’s curve at this point is to impose a six-week stay-at-home order coupled with a minimum of 100,000 vaccines administered per day. “As the latest modelling confirms, without taking immediate and decisive action COVID-19 cases will spiral out of control and our hospitals will be overwhelmed,” added Ford. “That’s why we are making difficult, but necessary decisions to reduce mobility and keep people in the safety of their own homes. We need to contain the spread of this deadly virus, while getting vaccines in as many arms as quickly as possible.”
The modelling data indicated that, if there were no shutdown or stay-at-home order imposed earlier this month, the daily caseload increase could have skyrocketed to 30,000 per day.
On Friday, over 4,800 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed across Ontario, the highest single-day rise in caseload to date.
Following a renewed lockdown and stay-at-home order from the Ford Government, there were several acts of civil disobedience reported, including within the City of Barrie; notably, the Simmering Kettle restaurant refused to halt indoor dining despite laws to the contrary, while an anti-mask protest is expected in downtown Barrie on Saturday. That would mark the fifth Saturday protest in a row.