Stay-at-home order extended, provincial border crossing restricted

Image of Nick Seebruch
By Nick Seebruch
Stay-at-home order extended, provincial border crossing restricted
Ontario Premier Doug Ford during a press conference on Wednesday, April 8, 2021.

ONTARIO – Premier Doug Ford and his government announced further restrictions to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated Variants of Concern (VoCs) during a press conference on Friday afternoon, April 16.

Ford painted a bleak picture as he explained that the rate of vaccination was not keeping up with the rate of spread of the COVID-19 variants.

“My friends, we’re losing the battle between the variants and vaccines,” he said. “The “pace of our vaccine supply has not kept up with the spread of the new COVID variants. We are on our heels, but if we dig in, and remain steadfast, we can turn this around. We’re down, but by no means are we out.”

Effective Friday afternoon, Ford extended the provincial Emergency Declaration and the province-wide stay-at-home order that he announced on April 7 for a total of six weeks, which would give an end date of May 13.

“”We’ve implemented the strictest measures in all of North America and the difficult truth is that every public health measure we have left comes with a massive cost to people and their lives. It comes down to three things, limiting mobility, enforcing the rules, and getting vaccines into arms,” said Ford.

Outdoor gatherings will be limited to household members only. Those who live alone can meet with members of one other household.

All non-essential construction is suspended. All outdoor recreational amenities will be restricted as well including golf courses, soccer fields and basketball courts.

Big box stores will have their capacity further reduced to 25 per cent.

Places of worship will be limited to 10 people indoors as of 12:01 a.m. on Monday, April 19.

Additionally, on Monday, April 19, the province will setup checkpoints at the Quebec and Manitoba borders and will restrict crossings to essential reasons such as work, medical care or transporting goods. Ford also called on the federal government to tighten up international borders.

Ford stated that he would also be increasing the distribution of vaccines to hot spot areas. Despite the EOHU region being in the top 10 of all health unit regions for rates of VoCs, it is not currently regarded as a hot spot by the province.

To step up enforcement, the province is giving by-law and police officers temporary special authority to enforce the rules of the Emergency Declaration and stay-at-home order.

“I know that the majority of Ontario residents are doing the right thing . . . but we need to step up enforcement,” Ford said. “We need to focus on those who are putting others deliberately at risk by ignoring the stay-at-home order. Those who gather at large groups are continuing to put others at risk.”

“We know that when they are followed, these measures work,” Ford said of the restrictions. “We know that because we’ve seen them work before.”

Ford explained that these restrictions will give the province more time to distribute the vaccine and alleviate pressure on the provincial hospital system.

Earlier this month, in a presentation to Cornwall City Council, Cornwall Community Hospital (CCH) CEO Jeanette Despatie told Council that the hospital’s capacity was above 100 per cent.

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