Ford announces four-week 'emergency-brake shutdown' of Ontario

Laverne Higgins
April 4, 2021

"We're now fighting a new enemy", Ford said.

The announcement of a third shutdown comes as Ontario reported 421 patients in ICUs on Wednesday, which is the highest number of critical care patients since the beginning of the pandemic.

Ontario health officials are reporting almost 2,600 new cases of COVID-19 for first time in more than two months.

"While experts were warning him of explosive growth of more infectious and more deadly variants, he cancelled public health protections", said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath in a statement.

The number of current hospitalizations is more than 20 per cent higher than those in December, as is the seven-day average of new daily cases of COVID-19.

Outdoor gathering limits, which recently increased to a maximum of 10 people in Toronto, are once again being reduced to just five people, and residents are expected to maintain a distance of at least two metres from one another.

For full details on the shutdown and other measures involved in the "emergency brake", visit the Ontario government's COVID-19 shutdown page. Supermarkets and pharmacies will operate at 50% capacity and other retailers at 25%.

In-person dining (indoor and outdoor) is prohibited.

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The rules are slightly more lax for religious, wedding and funeral services in Ontario, however, with indoor events permitted to host up to 15 per cent of a room's capacity. Ford stressed that the government will try to keep schools open and operational as much as possible, that the spring break will continue as planned for the week of April 12, and that child care will remain open during the shutdown "in order to support working families".

Personal care services such as hair salons are closed.

People are seen outside the Rideau Centre in Ottawa last December as they tried to complete their holiday shopping before a provincewide lockdown took effect on Boxing Day.

Crawley writes that "the only difference between this and the current lockdown provisions now seen in some areas of the province appears to be the closure of patio dining and golf courses, alongside a limit of five people instead of 10 for outdoor gatherings".

And despite being under shutdown since last November, Toronto, Canada's biggest city and the country's financial hub, remains Canada's biggest COVID hot spot.

Ford said because the measures would apply to the entire province, people would not be able to move between health regions and avoid restrictions.

Ontario is reporting 2,557 new cases of COVID-19 and 23 more deaths linked to the virus.

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