Province says 28-day shutdown needed to curb COVID-19 cases
Premier Doug Ford announced an “emergency brake” for all of Ontario.
All 34 public health regions will move into shutdown for a period of four weeks, the premier said at a press conference at Queen’s Park this afternoon.
The announcement comes after Ontario reported 2,557 cases today. The province has seen an increase in COVID-19 in the last two weeks, as well as a 14 per cent increase in hospitalization.
The premier said the number of cases is due to the increase in COVID-19 variants, which are known to spread more easily.
“This is a new pandemic, we’re now fighting a new enemy,” Ford said.
Beginning April 3, indoor and outdoor public events and gatherings will be prohibited, including patios, which only opened two weeks ago in Toronto.
Essential retail stores will be able to operate with a 50 per cent capacity limit, while other retail businesses, including big box stores, can operate at 25 per cent capacity.
Ontario is not issuing a stay-at home order, but is asking people to only leave their homes for essential reasons.
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said while the government encourages people to get outside and enjoy the nice weather, they should still adhere to social distancing guidelines.
The shutdown comes as Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Centre released new data predicting that without lockdown restrictions daily cases could rise to 6,000 by the end of April.
With the Easter weekend approaching, Ford urged Ontarians to only gather with their immediate household.
“My friends, I want us to have a good summer. These steps in the next four weeks are our best chance to save lives and get things open,” Ford said.