ONTARIO – On Thursday, April 1, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that his government would be implementing the so-called “Emergency Brake” which will put all of the province’s 34 health units into lockdown effective 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, April 3.
“Friends, we are facing a very very serious situation. As I’ve said we will do what it takes to protect the people of Ontario. As Premier, it falls to me to make the tough decisions. Today, I must make one of those tough decisions,” Ford said.
Ford stated that it was needed to implement a third lockdown due to the spread of COVID-19 variants.
The lockdown will restrict indoor gatherings to only members of the same household, and outdoor gatherings to five people. Those who live alone can choose to have exclusive contact with one individual from outside their household.
Pharmacies and stores that sell food will be limited to 50 per cent capacity; all other retail stores will be limited to 25 per cent capacity.
Gyms and personal care services will be closed and indoor and outdoor dining will be prohibited. Take out and delivery dining will still be permitted.
Capacity at weddings, funerals, and other religious services will be limited to 15 per cent capacity indoors. For outdoor services, two meters distance between individuals must be maintained.
“This is a new pandemic, we are now fighting a new enemy. The new variants are far more dangerous than before,” Ford said. “Younger people are ending up in the hospital and with these new variants, ICU admissions is two times higher, deaths are one-and-a-half times higher.”
Ford said that hospitalizations due to COVID-19 was up by 14 per cent, and that there were more Ontarians in Intensive Care Units (ICU)s was higher than it has ever been.
Ford said that as the COVID-19 vaccination continues to be distributed, that the end of the pandemic was in sight, but that pressure on the healthcare system needed to be relieved before that end was reached.
The Premier said that it was not just Ontario that was in this situation, but that a third wave of the pandemic was sweeping North America.
For the Easter Weekend, Ford said that religious institutions would remain open, but will be limited to 15 per cent capacity and asked that residents only gather with their immediate households.
To support businesses being hit hard by these restrictions, Ford said that the deadline to submit a Small Business Support Grant would be extended to April 7.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce stated that schools would remain open during the lockdown.
Schools will remain open — critical for students’ mental health & learning.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health has said schools remain safe.
Against third wave & VOCs, strong protocols have kept 98.7% of schools open and 74% without any cases.
Students deserve to be in class.
— Stephen Lecce (@Sflecce) April 1, 2021
“We will get through this if we all work together, and I assure you that brighter days are on the horizon,” said Premier Ford in closing.