Ontario Declares State of Emergency

By: Laura Steiner
Ontario has declared a state-of-emergency as it continues fighting the second wave of COVID-19.  Cases in Ontario have doubled over the past two weeks triggering fears for the province’s health system.
The province has also issued a stay-at-home order effective at 12:01 a.m. Thursday January 14.  Residents will be required to remain at home except for essential purposes such as groceries, pharmacy, accessing healthcare services.
“The latest modelling data shows that Ontario is in a crisis and, with the current trends, our hospital ICUs will be overwhelmed in a few short weeks with unthinkable consequences,” Premier Doug Ford said.  The latest data was presented earlier today.  One quarter of hospitals don’t have any ICU beds available while another quarter are down to only one or two beds available.
The province will also increase inspections at workplaces focusing on high transmission areas.  “We know the majority of businesses are operating safely and responsibly to protect their workers and customers.  But as COVID-19 cases to rise, we all need to step up and take additional measures to stop the spread,” Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton said.  Inspectors will focus on areas with reported outbreaks such as manufacturing businesses, warehouses, distribution centres, food processing operations, construction projects, and publicly accessible workplaces deemed essential such as grocery stores.
Other restrictions include:

  • Outdoor gatherings cut to five people
  • Wearing masks is now encouraged outdoors when you can’t physical distance
  • The closure of all non-essential retail stores.
  • Businesses offering curbside pickup or delivery must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 pm.
  • Non-essential construction is further restricted including below grade construction, exempting survey.

Law Enforcement to Issue tickets for Violations
The province has also beefed up enforcement measures.  All enforcement officers including OPP, local police, as well as bylaw enforcement will be able to issue tickets to those violating the stay-at-home order, or for those not wearing a mask/ face covering indoors as well as businesses who fail to enforce the orders.
“Extraordinary action is needed to protect the health and safety of Ontarians as we deal with this growing crisis,” Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said.  Enforcement officers will also have the ability to temporarily close a premise and disperse individuals who violate orders.
Schools in Five Regions To Extend Closures
Schools in: Windsor-Essex, Peel Region, Toronto, York, and Hamilton are to remain closed until February 10, 2021.  “At the heart of our continued efforts to protect against the spread of COVID-19 in our communities is a firm commitment to return kids to school, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said.  A decision on the return to school will be made by the Chief Medical of Health by January 20, 2021. Students in grades 1-3 will need to wear masks outdoors, enhanced screen protocols, expanded targeted testing.
The stay-at-home order will be in place for a minimum of 28 days.   Ontario reported with 2,903 cases of COVID19, and 41 more deaths today.  Halton recorded an increase of 63 cases.