Updated: April 07, 2021 04:54 PM
Created: April 07, 2021 04:53 PM
Facing a continued rise in COVID-19 cases, Ontario has replaced a five-day-old lockdown with a new stay-at-home order that will be in effect for four weeks starting Thursday.
Beginning Thursday, residents of Ontario will be required to stay at home except for essential purposes such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care, and getting outdoor exercise. People must work from home unless their work cannot be done remotely.
Health officials say the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Ontario increased 28 percent last week.
"The COVID-19 situation is at a critical stage and we must act quickly and decisively to stay ahead of these deadly new variants," Premier Doug Ford said in a news release.
"By imposing these strict new measures we will keep people safe while allowing our vaccination program to reach more people, starting with our high risk population and identified hot spots. Although this is difficult, I urge everyone to follow these public health measures and together we will defeat this deadly virus," Ford said.
Ford had previously imposed a stay-at-home order that began on the day after Christmas and continued into February. However, strict limits continued in parts of the province and were expanded provincewide on the day before Easter.
Discount and big-box stores will remain open during the stay-at-home order but only be allowed to sell groceries and other essential items, while non-essential retailers will only be allowed to offer curbside pickup or delivery.
Schools will remain open in most of the province, though Toronto schools closed Wednesday. The province says strict safety measures will be in place at schools and education workers in some hotspots will be able to register for a vaccination.
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