Ontario Premier Doug Ford denies it’s a curfew, just a “stay at home order.”
The new state of emergency order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday and remain in effect for at least 28 days.
It will confine Ontario residents to their home, except for essential purposes – which includes activities such as going to the grocery store, pharmacy, accessing health-care services, exercising, or essential work.
Under the declaration of a provincial emergency, the government is allowing all law enforcement and provincial offence officers to issue tickets to those who do not comply with the order. Violators, such as Ontario MPP and anti-lockdown activist Randy Hillier, could face a fine and prosecution under the Reopening Ontario Act and the Emergency Management and Civil Emergency Management (EMPCA).
Penalties for breaking the stay-at-home order could include up to a year in jail.
Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones means business: “Let me be clear, if people are found not complying with these orders, they will be subject to fines and prosecution. We are taking the current situation very seriously and we ask that all Ontarians do the same,” it was reported.
Non-essential employees currently working in the office will be required to work from home.
The latest restrictions include:
- Residents must remain at home at all times, with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for essential work.
- Businesses across the province must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home.
- The size of outdoor social gatherings has been reduced from 10 people to five people, with limited exceptions.
- Schools closed until Feb. 11 in Toronto, York Region, Hamilton, Windsor-Essex and Peel Region.
- It is now being recommended that individuals wear a face covering or mask when they are outdoors and cannot physically distance from others.
- Individuals are still required to wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations.
- Non-essential stores must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m., including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery.
- Those restrictions do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores and restaurants for takeout and delivery
- The government says non-essential construction, including below-grade projects, will be limited.
“When we have a stay-at-home order, that’s pretty serious. Last week I stood here and I told you our province is in crisis. The facts are clear: cases and deaths are the highest since the start of the pandemic and community spread continues to escalate.,” said Ford.
Ford stressed the health-care system is “on the brink of collapse.
“I know the actions we’ve announced today are difficult but they’re absolutely necessary,” he said.
In modelling data released late Tuesday morning, officials said they expect the daily COVID-19 mortality rate in the province to double from 50 deaths per day to about 100 deaths per day between mid-January and the end of February, CTV News reported.
Ford said that unlike a curfew, people will still be allowed to go outside regardless of the time for essential purposes, including if they need to walk their dog or “walk around the block” for exercise.
Ken Grafton is the Western Standards Ottawa Bureau Chief. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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