Today the Ford government announced further restrictions in an attempt to control the third wave of the pandemic.
With Ontario logging record-high daily numbers of COVID-19 cases and an alarming increase in ICU admissions, new public health measures will be implemented this weekend.
Among the new restrictions, which start at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, April 17, are:
Outdoor social gatherings are limited to members of the of the same household. Those living alone can still gather with one other household.
Outdoor amenities like playgrounds, soccer fields, and golf courses will be closed. Outdoor activities, either alone or with household members, like going for a walk or exercising a pet, are still permitted.
Non-essential construction will be paused.
Essential big box retail will have indoor limits reduced to 25 per cent.
Checkpoints will be implemented at Ontario’s borders with Manitoba and Quebec, with exceptions made for those entering for essential purposes. Premier Ford called on the federal government to also tighten restrictions at international borders and on air travel.
Police now have the ability to stop someone not at their residence and ask where they live and what their purpose is for being away from home. Non-compliance with provincial orders can result in a $750 fine.
Inspectors will also be checking offices, like law and accounting firms, to ensure that only essential workers are present.
The stay-at-home order that began on April 8 will be extended from four weeks to six.
And starting on Monday, April 19, religious services, wedding ceremonies, and funeral services are limited to 10 people.
Curbside pick-up and delivery can continue for non-essential businesses.
In a briefing earlier in the day, Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table said, “Without stronger system-level measures and immediate support for essential workers and high-risk communities, high case rates will persist
through the summer.”
Their modelling shows that six weeks of stronger public health measures combined with 100,000 vaccines per day (noted in the green dashed line in the graph below) have the best chance of flatten the curve. Without the new measures, modelling suggests case numbers would reach more than 10,000 per day by the end of May.
However, even with the new, stricter public health measures, cases are not expected to peak until later this month.
ICU admissions are also expected to continue to increase, as they always lag behind an increase in cases. Even best-case scenario projections have those numbers at more than 1,000 by the end of the month.
The science table noted that case numbers could be reduced even further with more vaccines. The province intends to direct 25 per cent of any new vaccine supply to hotspot areas.
“As we see the trends in key health indicators deteriorate to levels far exceeding anything we have seen before, it is necessary to follow public health and workplace safety measures given this continued and rapid case growth,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “By staying at home and limiting travel for essential purposes only, such as getting groceries or going to a medical appointment or to get vaccinated, we can reduce mobility and help interrupt transmission of this virus.”
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