Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced on Tuesday the province was entering a second state of emergency as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, effective immediately, and expected to remain in place for at least 28 days. Ford also announced a stay-at-home order effective Thursday at 12:01 a.m. ET, meaning people can only leave their homes for groceries and medical appointments. He also said schools in Windsor-Essex, Peel, Toronto, York and Hamilton will remain closed for in-person learning until Feb. 10.
Ford made the announcement on Tuesday during a COVID-19 update, alongside Health Minister Christine Elliott, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams and Dr. Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown, co-chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.
Ford also gave more details on additional COVID-19 public health restrictions being put in place, including the closure of non-essential construction sites. Non-essential retail stores must close by 8 p.m. with the exception of grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies and restaurants providing take out. Outdoor gatherings are restricted to five people and masks are mandatory in all public spaces and recommended even outdoors where you cannot safely keep distance.
Jones said that under new measures of the state of emergency order, authority will be given to enforcement personnel to issue fines to individuals, employees and corporations in retail settings and businesses if found not complying with an order. Enforcement officials, such as police officers, will have the authority to disperse social gatherings of more than 5 people outdoors as well.
The premier also defended the decision not to impose a curfew in the province as part of new COVID-19 public health restrictions, saying he believes in residents and that as soon as you tell people you’ve “lost trust” through a curfew, “you might as well throw in the white flag.” He said he’s never been in favour of a curfew because it would mean a hard lockdown, with cars not even driving around.
Ontario reported 2,903 new cases Tuesday and 41 deaths.
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