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

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The move comes after intensive care admissions at Ontario hospitals reached a new high this week, with at least 421 COVID-19 patients now in the ICU.

Ford said the variants of concern are increasing rapidly and that this has become a new pandemic. "This is a new pandemic; we're fighting a new enemy".

Despite outdoor dining just reopening in Oshawa as of April 1, restaurants will have to revert back to takeout, drive-thru and delivery only during the lockdown.

Prohibiting indoor organized public events and social gatherings and limiting the capacity for outdoor organized public events or social gatherings to a 5-person maximum, except for gatherings with members of the same household (the people you live with) or gatherings of members of one household and one other person from another household who lives alone.

Schools remain open because, the government says, they are crucial to students' mental health.

All other personal care services, such as barbers and hair salons will be closed, along with casinos and bingo halls, cinemas, and performing arts facilities. At least two-thirds of the province's public health units have already been under lockdown (grey zone) or control (red zone) restrictions.

New Brunswick is reporting nine new cases of COVID-19, bringing the province's active case count to 153. "As I've said many times, we will do what it takes to protect the people of Ontario".

Indoor ceremonies or religious services are capped at 15 per cent capacity.

Christine Elliot, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, joined Ford - along with Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Dr. Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown, Co-Chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table - and made it clear these shutdown measures are not the same as stay-at-home orders.

Ontario to begin 4-week lockdown Saturday across 34 public health units
Restaurants can only offer delivery and take-out services in the shutdown zone and no indoor dining will be allowed. Premier Doug Ford said he is pulling the emergency brake, just as restrictions across the province were easing.

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".

Ford said they are doing everything they can to keep kids in class.

In-person shopping for retail establishments such as supermarkets and other stores that primarily sell groceries, convenience stores and pharmacies is reduced to 50 per cent capacity, while the capacity limit for all other retail, including discount and big box retailers, liquor stores, cannabis stores, hardware stores and garden centres is reduced to 25 per cent.

As well, the province hit a record high on Wednesday for the number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs.

Of the new cases reported in Ontario, 67 per cent are the result of a variant of concern.

Stay-at-home orders and stricter measures were gradually lifted across Ontario in February and March, only for cases to spike in the following weeks.

Full details on measures coming into effect on April 3 under this shutdown are available at https:// news.ontario.ca/en/release/60986/ontario-implements-provincewide-emergency-brake.

Employers should make "every effort" to have employees work from home.

Premier François Legault said he's talking to the Ontario government about limiting travel between Ottawa and the nearby town of Gatineau in Quebec.

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