Confusing but helpful- northern Ontario reacts to province's stay-at-home order

State of Emergency declared; stay-at-home order issued

In addition to the state of emergency, a legal stay at home order has been put in place beginning 12:01 a.m. this Thursday, January 14, 2021.

As Ontario grapples with surging daily case numbers that are now threatening to swamp hospitals, Premier Ford announced new public-health measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, which includes new restrictions to the construction industry.

How are people in Ontario reacting to the new order?

"We now have a well-oiled machine, led by General Hillier, and we are making tremendous progress", said Ford. "We're doing everything we can as health workers to protect our patients and the public, but our ERs are full and we need the provincial government to equip workers with paid sick days so they can protect themselves". "The system is on the brink of collapse".

The province recorded 5,056 deaths. "Urgent action is required to break this deadly trend of transmission, ensure people stay home, and save lives".

Premier says he "couldn't be any clearer" as worst-case scenario predicts 15,000 cases a day.

When asked how the stay at home order differs from a curfew, like the one implemented in Quebec, Ford said he has never been in favour of a curfew and doesn't want to lose the trust of Ontarians.

And people with pets are allowed to leave the house to pick up supplies for their animals and to walk and exercise them. "As simple as that", he said.

"I think curfew would probably send a stronger message, but I don't think it's the right to do either", says Alain Simard, an immunologist at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. That's a hard, hard lockdown. As soon as you tell the people of Ontario you have lost trust, that's it, game over. Non-essential curbside pickup is allowed because not every Ontarian has easy access to a big-box store or online retail and what's essential will vary from person to person. "I do not believe in that".

"The province will provide authority to all enforcement and provincial offences officers, including the Ontario Provincial Police, local police forces, bylaw officers, and provincial workplace inspectors to issue tickets to individuals who do not comply with the stay-at-home order", a government press release vowed.

Ford said the stay-at-home order was indeed a drastic measure that wasn't being taken lightly. "It will depend on each one of you".

The government has also restricted hours of operation for non-essential retailers now offering delivery and curbside pick up to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., and a five-person cap on outdoor social gatherings.

They include prolonging the pause on in-person learning in schools in five southern Ontario hot spots-Toronto, Hamilton, Peel, York and Windsor-Essex-to February 10.

There are 2,961 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario and 74 more deaths from the virus.

"It's not a matter of if this new strain takes hold, it's a matter of when it takes hold and how far it spreads", Ford said. Vaccination of residents, staff and essential caregivers of long-term care homes has begun in many parts of the province, with the goal of having the first dose administered in all homes by February 15.

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