Essential workers anxious Ontario's latest COVID-19 'shutdown' won't protect them

Province wide lockdown to begin Saturday

Ford stated that it was needed to implement a third lockdown due to the spread of COVID-19 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 Premier Doug Ford in a statement Thursday. The provincial government's scientific advisors are expected to release new modeling this morning showing the expected impact of the pandemic's third wave over the next few weeks, according to CBC Canada. The processes we now have in place to protect staff and members of the public are in compliance with the new measures announced by the Province, and will ensure ongoing business continuity as we continue to deliver the essential municipal services on which our community relies.

Under the new category of the response framework, shutdown is similar to the grey lockdown zone, though some services originally permitted to remain open will now be forced to closed.

Schools will remain open for in-person learning while spring break will still go ahead the week of April 12th.

Under the province's new shutdown rules, all indoor organized events and social gatherings are prohibited.

Prohibiting the use of facilities for indoor or outdoor sports and recreational fitness, including gyms. Today, 2.557 new cases were reported by Public Health Ontario.

All 34 public-health regions went into the grey zone on December 26, followed by a provincewide stay-at-home order on January 14 that suspended the colour-coded system. "We also see, you know the people gathering in large groups that were totally discouraging".

"We are now seeing almost 14 per cent increase in hospitalizations, with COVID-19 patients in ICU increasing dramatically", Ford said.

"We need more runway to allow our vaccination rollout to get where we need it, and that means we need to take action now", said Ford.

Limiting capacity at weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies to 15% occupancy per room indoors, and to the number of individuals that can maintain two metres of physical distance outdoors.

Christine Elliot, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, joined Ford - along with Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Dr. Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown, Co-Chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table - and made it clear these shutdown measures are not the same as stay-at-home orders.

As well, the province hit a record high on Wednesday for the number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs.

Essential retail stores are capped at 50 per cent of their maximum capacity and non-essential stores are limited to 25 per cent.

Rather than introducing that measure, the province has encouraged people to get tested for COVID-19 so they can apply for federal benefits if the virus forces them to stay home.

However, the province-wide emergency brake announced on Thursday - which the province is not calling a "lockdown" - does not include a stay-at-home order.

Premier François Legault said he's talking to the Ontario government about limiting travel between Ottawa and the nearby town of Gatineau in Quebec.

Employers should make "every effort" to have employees work from home.

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