Doug Ford officially announced Ontario's shutdown is beginning on Saturday, April 3, at 12:01 a.m.
At a press conference on Thursday, Premier Ford confirmed his government is pulling the "emergency brake," triggering an Ontario-wide shutdown that will last for at least four weeks.
Under the province's shutdown restrictions, non-essential retailers (including big box stores) can stay open at 25% capacity and essential retailers can stay open at 50% capacity.
Indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants is prohibited for the whole province, but takeout, drive-thru, and curbside pickup can continue.
Ontario's personal care services (like barbers and salons) and indoor and outdoor fitness facilities (like gyms) must be closed under the new shutdown restrictions, and employers are being asked to make every effort to allow employees to work from home.
What does Ontario’s shutdown look like?
Under the new lockdown restrictions, Ontario says residents should only go outside for the following activities:
- Work, if you can’t do it remotely
- Helping vulnerable people
- Exercise and physical activity
However, non-essential businesses and shopping malls are still staying open at a limited capacity.
Outdoor gatherings are also permitted, but only with a maximum of five people who must all stay two metres away from one another.
Indoor gatherings with anybody outside of your household are not allowed, but indoor religious services are allowed at 15 percent capacity.
"Please understand, this decision was not made lightly,” said Premier Ford. "I know the toll these restrictions continue to take."
Why is Ontario going back into a shutdown?
"The bottom line is, we need more time," Premier Ford said at Thursday’s press conference.
"We need to close the gap between where we are and where we will be with the millions of vaccines we're expecting by June."
“We are in a desperate race against an extremely aggressive and fast-moving virus,” he added.
Twelve days ago, Ontario announced it would be loosening restrictions in several of the colour zones in the province.
But now, scientists and experts across the province say they’re worried about how bad things could get.
According to the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, all of Ontario’s key COVID-19 metrics are getting worse.
They said Ontario’s number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and ICU admissions are as high, if not higher, than they were when the province shut down in December.
According to the group, those infected with variants of concerns have a 62% higher risk of hospitalization, a 114% higher risk of ICU admission, and a 40% relative increase in deaths.
"This. Is. Different," the Science Advisory Table tweeted on Monday, March 29. "Ontario is in more danger than before."