TORONTO, Ca. (WKBW) — The Ontario Province in Canada will shut down for at least four weeks due to a surge in COVID cases in the region.
The provincial government, its chief medical officer of health, and other health experts said the lockdown will take effect 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
In a release posted to the Ontario government's website Thursday, health leaders in the region said the provincial case rates increased 7.7% from March 26 to March 28. Ontario Premier Doug Ford called the situation serious.
"Drastic measures are required to contain the rapid spread of the virus, especially the new variants of concern," said Premier Ford. "I know pulling the emergency brake will be difficult on many people across the province, but we must try and prevent more people from getting infected and overwhelming our hospitals."
The province-wide emergency brake puts in place several new safety measures that include, but are not limited to:
- Prohibiting indoor organized public events and social gatherings and limiting the capacity for outdoor organized public events or social gatherings to a five-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.
- Restricting in-person shopping in all retail settings, including a 50% capacity limit for supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers markets, other stores that primarily sell food and pharmacies, and 25% for all other retailers including big box stores, along with other public health and workplace safety measures.
- Prohibiting personal care services.
- Prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments will be permitted to operate by take-out, drive-through, and delivery only.
- Prohibiting the use of facilities for indoor or outdoor sports and recreational fitness (e.g., gyms) with very limited exceptions.
- Requiring day camps to close.
- Limiting capacity at weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies to 15% occupancy per room indoors, and to the number of individuals that can maintain two meters of physical distance outdoors. This does not include social gatherings associated with these services such as receptions, which are not permitted indoors and are limited to five people outdoors.
All Ontario residents are also urged to stay home, except for things like groceries, medication, medical appointments, supporting vulnerable community members and outdoor exercise.
The provincial government is also asking all employers to "make every effort to allow employees to work from home."