Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAY.com

TORONTO — “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.”

So said Premier Ford today, as he strengthened enforcement of Ontario’s stay-at-home order, effective Saturday at 12:01 a.m., that also imposes new travel restrictions everyone hopes will stem the rapid growth of the virus and relieves mounting pressures on the province’s health care system.

Details were provided in a news release, which did not included a curfew as was considered by cabinet and strongly urged by independent health officials who worry the new rules will unfairly affect the poor.

They say the new enforcement tool will only be in effect during the current 28-day stay-at-home order that began last week and a further two more weeks.

So until the May 24 long weekend — at least.

And if the numbers don’t stop going up the restrictions could be extended.

The rush to get the vaccine is evident everywhere, including in Minden Friday, where they were giving out doses of Pfizer at the new arena-civic complex that was built last year and with the injection clinic its first actual use.

The provinces says based on the latest modelling data, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and ICU occupancy are continuing to increase rapidly and are now at their highest levels since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the province have increased by 29.2 per cent between the period of April 7 and 13, 2021.

In addition, between April 8 and 14, 2021, Ontario has seen the number of patients in intensive care due to COVID related critical illness increase from 552 to 659, and admissions are projected to rise to over 1,000 patients by the end of the month.

Over the past week, the positivity rate in the province is at 8 per cent, well above the high-alert threshold of 2.5 per cent.

Today the government also confirmed that, as announced in the budget, second payments of the Ontario Small Business Support Grant would start to be made early next week.

Said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones: “This is a critical moment in Ontario’s response to this deadly virus.”

The order requires everyone to remain at home except for specified purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely.

“Now, more than ever before, businesses need to take all measures possible to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Labour Minister McNaughton.

In order to limit the transmission of the variants of concern, the government is also restricting travel into Ontario from the provinces of Manitoba and Quebec with the exception of purposes such as work, health care services, transportation and delivery of goods and services or exercising Aboriginal or treaty rights.

“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.

Ontario is implementing the following public health and workplace safety measures effective Saturday, April 17, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.:

  • Prohibit all outdoor social gatherings and organized public events, except for with members of the same household or one other person from outside that household who lives alone or a caregiver for any member of the household;
  • Close all non-essential workplaces in the construction sector;
  • Reduce capacity limits to 25 per cent in all retail settings where in-store shopping is permitted. This includes supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers’ markets, other stores that primarily sell food and pharmacies; and,
  • Close all outdoor recreational amenities, such as golf courses, basketball courts, soccer fields, and playgrounds with limited exceptions.

Further, effective Monday April 19, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the government is:

  • Limiting the capacity of weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies to 10 people indoors or outdoors.
  • Prohibiting social gatherings associated with these services such as receptions, except for with members of the same household or one other person from outside that household who lives alone. Drive-in services will be permitted.
  • All other public health and workplace safety measures for non-essential retail under the provincewide emergency brake (i.e., curbside pick-up and delivery only), will continue to apply.

“As we see the trends in key health indicators deteriorate to levels far exceeding anything we have seen before, it is necessary to follow public health and workplace safety measures given this continued and rapid case growth,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health.



Email news@muskokatoday.com

Celebrating 27 YEARS of ‘Local Online Journalism’

Follow us on at Twitter @muskokatoday & on Facebook at mclairmont1

Leave your comments at end of story.

Send Letters to the Editor at news@muskokatoday.com

SUBSCRIBE for $25 by e-transferring to news@muskokatoday.com

Or go online to https://muskokatoday.com/subscriptions