State of Emergency in Effect in Ontario

Residents walking keep socially distanced in Barrie Ont

Premier Doug Ford says he is also declaring another state of emergency effective immediately in response to surging COVID-19 infection rates.

The stay at home order will require everyone to remain at home, with the exception for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store, accessing health-care services, exercise, and essential work.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath accused the Ford government of "stalling" on new public health restrictions, a move she said will cost lives. "In addition to limiting outings to essential trips, all businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home".

When it comes to school, the return of students to in person-learning has been pushed back from January 25 to Feb 10 in hotspots including, Windsor-Essex, Toronto, Hamilton, York and Peel.

There are nearly 400 people with COVID-19 in intensive care in Ontario, almost twice the number that needed critical care at the beginning of December.

All non-essential retail stores are now restricted to operating hours no earlier than 7 a.m. and no later than 8 p.m.

"In terms of restricting what type of shopping can be done at those locations, it's really clear that employers are going to decide what is and isn't essential work".

Ladd adds that all the mayors of all the major cities in South Western Ontario calling for paid sick days, along with the federal chief medical officer of health.

Premier Ford ended his introductory remarks for the new regulations by pleading with Ontarians: "More than ever, we need - I need - you to do your part, stay home, and save lives".

Under the emergency measures, the province says it will give provincial and local police, bylaw officers and provincial workplace inspectors the power to ticket those who don't comply with the stay-at-home order, those not complying with mask-wearing rules and retailers who don't enforce those rules. Schools in northern PHUs will continue to remain open.

Before- and after-school programs can be offered when in-person instruction resumes.

Elementary and Secondary schools in the southern part of the province (south of Sudbury) were slated to remain closed until January 25, which is two weeks later than the original reopening date.

Emergency child care will continue for eligible families in regions subject to school closures, as identified by the Chief Medical Officer of Health during the extended period of online learning, in areas where in-person elementary learning is suspended.

To date, evidence gathered from COVID-19 related workplace inspections indicates that the vast majority of employers and workers are following COVID-19 safety requirements when working.

On Monday, Ontario reported giving 8,859 more doses of the vaccine since its last daily update, with 122,105 total doses now administered.

"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.

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