The third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario is being driven by variants of concern and younger people are being hospitalized.
"My friends, we're facing a very, very serious situation", said Ford. "This is a new pandemic; we're fighting a new enemy". The processes we now have in place to protect staff and members of the public are in compliance with the new measures announced by the Province, and will ensure ongoing business continuity as we continue to deliver the essential municipal services on which our community relies.
Restaurants can only offer delivery and take-out services in the shutdown zone and no indoor dining will be allowed.
All regions across the province of Ontario will be entering a sweeping shutdown as of April 3 to curb the spread of risky variants of concern, and that means new indoor and outdoor gathering limits will also come into effect.
The government has said schools will also remain open because they are crucial to students' mental health.
Premier Doug Ford said he is pulling the emergency brake, just as restrictions across the province were easing.
Ontario's science advisers are suggesting a stay-at-home order is needed to control Ontario's third wave of COVID-19.
"They're all dealing with the effects of a third wave and a risky new variant", Ford says, adding the decision for the shutdown was "not made lightly".
There are at least 1,953 cases of the B.1.1.7. variant in Ontario, as well as 67 B.1.351 variant and 96 P.1. variant, according to the Ontario government.
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She said local outbreaks and lockdowns were going to be part of the Australian way of life until everyone was vaccinated. The man has the United Kingdom variant of COVID-19, which is considered more contagious.
Ontarians are asked to limit trips outside the home to necessities such as food, medication, medical appointments, supporting vulnerable community members, or exercising outdoors with members of their household.
Non-essential retail stores are permitted to open but with occupancy capped at 25 per cent of maximum, while essential retail outlets such as grocery stores are limited to 50 per cent occupancy.
Up to date, more than 317,000 people in Ontario have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and are now considered immunized against the virus. "Even if we had unlimited ICU capacity, allowing these (variants of concern) to spread exponentially is unethical".
Under the new category of the response framework, shutdown is similar to the grey lockdown zone, though some services originally permitted to remain open will now be forced to closed.
As expected, Ontario is again about to go under a province-wide shutdown.
"Vaccination is not reaching the highest risk communities, delaying its impact as an effective strategy", they add.
For the past week, Ontario has reported an average of about 2,300 new cases of COVID-19 per day, including 2,333 cases and 15 deaths on Wednesday when the province hit its record high for the number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs.
The current COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open, will be paused when the provincewide emergency brake comes into effect. He continued by stressing, "We need to close the gap between where we are today and where we will be with the millions of vaccines we are expecting".
The province will release its daily COVID-19 numbers later this morning.