With 'alarming surge in COVID-19,' Ontario begins emergency shutdown at midnight

Ruben Fields
April 3, 2021

"It's spreading far more quickly than it was before and we can not vaccinate quickly enough to break this third wave, this is the challenge of the new variants".

"We are facing a serious situation and drastic measures are required to contain the rapid spread of the virus, especially the new variants of concern", said Ford in a news release. "This is a new pandemic; we're fighting a new enemy".

In-person dining, personal care services and gyms will close again for the next four weeks.

Indoor organized public events and social gatherings are prohibited.

Admissions to intensive care units (ICU) across Ontario continued to climb Thursday, as the province hit another record high since the pandemic started a year ago.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said the emergency shutdown is different than a stay-at-home order.

The province's colour-coded COVID-19 response framework will be paused for all of Ontario's 34 public health units when the shutdown comes into effect.

Ontario reported 2,557 new COVID cases Thursday.

While a stay-at-home order is not in effect during the shutdown, the province is asking all Ontarians to limit trips outside the home to necessities such as food, medication, medical appointments, supporting vulnerable community members, or exercising outdoors with members of their household.

Weddings, funerals and religious services, rites or ceremonies can be held indoors at 15 per cent capacity or outdoors as long as two metres physical distancing is possible. There will also be further restrictions on people gathering.

Two-thirds of the province's public health units are now under what the government calls lockdown (grey zone) or control (red zone) restrictions.

Hair salon COVID 19

Essential stores will remain open at 50 percent capacity and non-essential retail can operate at 25 percent capacity.

The government says employers in all industries should make every effort to allow employees to work from home.

"This is the same failed approach that lead to the variants of concern taking off the way they have and these are the very things that Doug Ford was warned about back in February".

Brown said vaccines aren't reaching communities at highest risk, limiting the effectiveness of the province's strategy.

If no further public health measures are implemented, daily COVID-19 cases could rise to 6,000 by the end of April, according to the data.

Ontario reported 2,557 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of lab-confirmed cases in the province to 352,460, including 7,389 deaths.

Six public health regions, including Toronto's and Hamilton's, are now in the grey "lockdown" zone of the province's colour-coded system.

More than 150 intensive care unit doctors signed an open letter to the government on Thursday, calling for new, stricter, measures.

Keeping schools open is critical to the mental health and well-being of Ontario youth.

"They are useful from an infection control standpoint - this has implications on how these people are treated in the healthcare system in terms of precaution - but in terms of what the public actually cares about, it's how many people are critically ill due to complications from COVID-19".

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