Ontario Enacts Provincial Emergency and Stay-at-Home Order

Published on April 07, 2021

Ontario is at a critical stage and our government is acting quickly and decisively to stay ahead of the third wave of COVID-19. Case rates, hospitalizations, and ICU occupancy are increasing rapidly, threatening to overwhelm the health care system. While every action possible is being taken to increase capacity, the province is reaching a tipping point. This government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is immediately declaring a third provincial emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA). These measures are being taken in response to the rapid increase in COVID-19 transmission, the threat on the province's hospital system capacity, and the increasing risks posed to the public by COVID-19 variants.

 

Effective Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a province-wide Stay-at-Home order requiring everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise close to home and with the people you live with, or for work that cannot be done remotely. As Ontario’s health care capacity is threatened, the Stay-at-Home order, and other new and existing public health and workplace safety measures will work to preserve public health system capacity, safeguard vulnerable populations, allow for progress to be made with vaccinations and save lives.

 

The province is also strengthening public health and workplace safety measures for non-essential retail under the provincewide emergency brake, including limiting non-essential retail to curbside pick-up and delivery, restricting access to shopping malls, restricting discount and big box stores to essential items only. By putting in place additional public health and workplace safety measures, we can work to reduce transmission of the virus while we work to rollout Phase 2 of our vaccine distribution plan, and put more needles in the arms of Ontarians.

 

Case rates, hospitalizations, and ICU occupancy are increasing rapidly, threatening to overwhelm the health care system:

  • The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the province have increased by 28.2% between the period of March 28 and April 5, 2021;
  • Between March 28 and April 5, 2021 Ontario has seen the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care escalate by 25%; and
  • Over the past week, the province’s positivity rate is 5.1%, well above the high-alert threshold of 2.5%, and as of April 6, 2021, there has been a total of 2,483 cases with one of the three variants of concern.

 

Additional Public Health Measures during the State of Emergency:

Stay at Home Order:

  • Effective Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a province-wide Stay-at-Home order requiring everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise close to home and with the people you live with, or for work that cannot be done remotely.

 

Retail:

  • Effective April 8, 2021, at 12:01 a.m., the majority of non-essential retailers must only operate for curbside pick-up and delivery between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., with delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6:00 am and 9:00 pm, and other restrictions.
  • Restricting access to shopping malls to limited specified purposes, including access for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, with one single designated location inside the shopping mall, and any number of designated locations outside the shopping mall, along with other restrictions.
  • Restricting discount and big box stores in-person retail sales to grocery items, pet care supplies, household cleaning supplies, pharmaceutical items, health care items, and personal care items only;
  • Permitting select retail stores to open by appointment only and subject to a 25 per cent capacity limit and restricting allowable hours of operation to 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. with the delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., with additional public health and workplace safety measures.

 

Please refer to the regulations for a full list of public health and workplace safety measures.

 

Education:

  • Schools and child care will remain open for in-person care and learning in public health regions where it is permitted, with strict safety measures in place.
  • Beginning next week, education workers who provide direct support to students with special education needs across the province, and all education workers in select hot spot areas, will be eligible to register for vaccination. Vaccinations will commence during the April break starting with priority neighborhoods in Toronto and Peel, then rolling out to priority neighborhoods in other hot spot regions, including York, Ottawa, Hamilton, Halton and Durham. This will be followed by a rollout across the province as supply allows.
  • While April Break will proceed, new protocols will be introduced to ensure students return to class safely following the break, including:
    • Asymptomatic testing expansion to include testing during the break
    • On-site confirmation of self-screening of staff and students
    • Refresher training for staff on safety protocols upon return from break
    • Encouraging outdoor instruction when possible
    • Enhanced cleaning of schools during the break
  • For the week of April 12th-18th, pharmacies that offer testing and all assessment centres across the province will accept appointments from students and education staff for asymptomatic testing. The Ministry of Education will be working with school boards to offer school-based clinics.
  • The Government also confirmed that vaccination of education staff will be accelerated, with access starting next week during the ‘April Break’. This expansion includes: 
    • special education staff, province-wide
    • vaccination of education workers starting in high-priority neighborhoods in Toronto and Peel, and as supply allows, in Hamilton, Halton, York, Durham, and Ottawa.
    • a commitment to scale up the delivery of vaccinations province-wide to all education staff, as supply allows
  • It is critical that all families and staff continue to follow public health advice during the break, to ensure students can safely return to class on April 18.

 

Vaccinations:

  • As part of Phase Two of its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, people living in regions with the highest rates of transmission will be prioritized to receive a vaccine, starting with the most at-risk in the Peel and Toronto public health regions.
  • This initiative will be expanded to additional “hot spot” regions based on established patterns of transmission, severe illness, and mortality.
  • To support this expanded vaccination effort, mobile teams are being organized to administer vaccines in high-risk congregate settings, residential buildings, faith-based locations, and locations occupied by large employers in hot spot neighbourhoods to individuals aged 18 or over.
  • Pop-up clinics will also be set-up in highly impacted neighborhoods, including at faith-based locations and community centres in those hot spots, in collaboration with public health units and community organizations within those communities.
  • On Friday, April 9, 2021, individuals aged 50 or older in public health units with highly impacted neighbourhood, as identified by postal code, will be eligible to book their vaccine through the provincial booking system.

 

Workplace Inspections:

  • Health and safety inspectors and provincial offenses officers will increase inspections and enforcement at essential businesses in regional hot zones to continue protecting essential workers while on the job.

 

Rapid Testing:

  • Rapid testing continues to be deployed in workplaces for asymptomatic staff in key sectors such as manufacturing, warehousing, supply chain, mining, construction and food processing, and additional outreach will occur to employers in regions with the highest rates of transmission to increase access to testing.
  • Enrolling in the Provincial Antigen Screening Program will be streamlined to allow for quick access to these supports. 

 

To learn more: CLICK HERE

 

 

Please refer to the regulations for a full list of public health and workplace safety measures.