Global News has learned the Ontario government is currently considering implementing a stay-at-home order and closing non-essential retail businesses provincewide in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Sources told Global News that under the plan still being considered late Tuesday, non-essential retail stores would be limited to curbside pickup.
Big-box stores, meanwhile, would be restricted to essential aisles only, marking a shift in policy from past lockdowns when the stores were allowed to sell non-essential items, much to the frustration of many small businesses.
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The stay-at-home order would likely be in place for a month.
Schools are expected to remain open for in-person learning, other than in areas where local medical officers of health have ordered their closure.
The announcement is expected to come Wednesday and may include another state of emergency declaration.
The measures are still set to undergo further review, possibly leading to adjustments, with cabinet members scheduled to meet Wednesday at 11 a.m. to finalize details.
Ontario government suggests more COVID-19 restrictions coming, but details not revealed
During a press conference Tuesday, Ford hinted at the possibility of more restrictions being imposed in addition to measures put in place last week as part of a “provincewide shutdown.”
The shutdown, which took effect Saturday, meant, among other things, that in-person dining, personal care services, and gyms had to close. Non-essential in-person retail could remain open with capacity restrictions.
However, Ford expressed frustration Tuesday about seeing scenes of a packed Yorkdale Mall parking lot over the long weekend.
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“It was absolutely jampacked and I truly was hoping that people wouldn’t be going in there to the volume that we saw,” he said.
“Folks, this variant is taking off and please when you can, follow all protocols. Make sure when you can stay at home. We understand you’ve got to get out, get fresh air, God bless you, but do it responsibly…
“Going to the malls is not essential. What’s essential is going to buy food, going to buy medicine out of the pharmacies and getting your vaccines.”
Ontario health experts plead for tighter restrictions, stay-at-home orders
On Sunday, the medical officers of health for Toronto, Peel Region, and Ottawa sent a letter to the province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David WIlliams, calling for a provincewide stay-at-home order and additional business closures in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.
Ontario has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks. On Tuesday, 3,065 cases were reported along with eight more deaths.
There were reported to be 510 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units throughout the province, which is the highest since the pandemic began.
— With files from Nick Westoll
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