Queen's Park. BENSON KUA

Ford government belatedly enacts province-wide action

After weeks of mounting warnings from health authorities, and increasingly pitched criticism from opposition parties, as well as ICU capacity stretched to levels not seen even during the first wave of COVID-19 in 2020, the Ford government has finally opted to take more drastic measures to combat the now widely circulating coronavirus variants

Details were provided in a government statement released Wednesday afternoon, April 7.

“Although this is difficult, I urge everyone to follow these public health measures and together we will defeat this deadly virus,” said the Premier.

Case rates, hospitalizations, and ICU occupancy are increasing rapidly, threatening to overwhelm the health care system. According to the government, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the province have increased by 28.2 percent between the period of March 28 and April 5. In addition, between March 28 and April 5, 2021, Ontario has seen the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care escalate by 25 percent.

Effective Thursday 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, or for work that cannot be done remotely. Retail

Non-essential businesses restricted

Measures include, but are not limited to limiting the majority of non-essential retailers to only operate for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, between the hours of 7 AM and 8 PM, with delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6 AM and 9 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 the following stores to operate for in-person retail by appointment only and subject to a 25 percent capacity limit and restricting allowable hours of operation to between 7 AM and 8 PM with the delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6 AM and 9 PM: Safety supply stores; Businesses that primarily sell, rent or repair assistive devices, aids or supplies, mobility devices, aids or supplies or medical devices, aids or supplies;
Rental and leasing services including automobile, commercial and light industrial machinery and equipment rental; Optical stores that sell prescription eyewear to the public; Businesses that sell motor vehicles, boats and other watercraft; Vehicle and equipment repair and essential maintenance and vehicle and equipment rental services; and
retail stores operated by a telecommunications provider or service, which may only permit members of the public to enter the premises to purchase a cellphone or for repairs or technical support. Outdoor garden centres and plant nurseries, and indoor greenhouses that engage in sales to the public, are permitted to operate with a 25 percent capacity limit and a restriction on hours of operation to between 7 AM and 8 PM.

As of now, schools will remain open.