Ontario imposes four-week 'shutdown' to combat surge in COVID-19 cases

Brunilde Fioravanti
Aprile 5, 2021

With the Easter long weekend hours away, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced that all 34 Public Health Regions of Ontario will move into shutdown.

Premier Doug Ford said he is pulling the emergency brake, just as restrictions across the province were easing. Our vaccine rollout is steadily increasing, and I encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. "That is our best protection against this deadly virus", Ford added.

"We're now fighting a new enemy, the new variants are far more risky than before".

Almost one in six Canadians have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with 5.1 million people vaccinated as of Thursday morning, according to Health Canada, which noted about 690,000 of those have received both doses.

The province also reported 39 new virus-related deaths over the same two-day stretch.

While the provincial government is not introducing an official stay-at-home order as experts have recommended this time around, Ontarians are once again being asked to leave the house only for necessities and to refrain from gathering with people outside their household.

Weddings, religious services, and funerals are limited to 15 per cent occupancy per room, with two metres of social distancing required.

Capacity is limited in retail stores - to 50 per cent for those deemed essential, and 25 per cent for non-essential retailers - while restaurants are restricted to takeout, delivery and drive-through service.

Indoor and outdoor dining will no longer be permitted as of Saturday. Particularly with the warmer weather, the government didn't want to limit outdoor access and activity, she said.

Personal care services must also close.

Casinos and bingo halls, cinemas and performing arts facilities are closed.

With more than $1.6 billion invested to protect against COVID-19, schools remain safe for students and staff. Keeping schools open is critical to the mental health and well-being of Ontario youth.

Six regions are already in Grey-Lockdown, including Toronto, Peel, and Hamilton, while another 16 areas are in the Red-Control zone when it comes to provincial restrictions.

However, the CBC's Mike Crawley reports the province has also created a new category of restrictions on its website called "shutdown". This does not include social gatherings associated with these services such as receptions, which are not permitted indoors and are limited to five people outdoors.

"I think we need to make those true ICU numbers, the true number of people who are in the ICU and standing with complications of COVID-19, as visible as possible".

And despite being under shutdown since last November, Toronto, Canada's biggest city and the country's financial hub, remains Canada's biggest COVID hot spot.

Another four regions where cases counts are on the rise are switching Thursday to a more restrictive level of Quebec's colour-coded pandemic system.

Up to date, more than 317,000 people in Ontario have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and are now considered immunized against the virus.

The number of current hospitalizations is more than 20 per cent higher than those in December, as is the seven-day average of new daily cases of COVID-19.

So far London's hospitals are not seeing a surge in patients in ICUs but officials cautioned that could quickly change.

That followed a record 46 admissions on Monday.

With more than 800 admissions - nearly double what was seen in the height of the second wave - it is "definitely possibility" that doctors would have to implement a triage protocol, stated Brown.

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