Here's what Ontario's new restrictions mean for the London region
LONDON, ONT. -- After new modelling data showed the current wave could continue into summer if nothing changes, the province has announced new restrictions and stricter enforcement of existing rules.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Friday afternoon that the state of emergency and stay-at-home order are being extended by two weeks for a total of six weeks.
In addition to extending the ordersadditional restrictions take effect on Saturday including:
- outdoor gatherings are restricted to members of the same household
- outdoor amenities including golf courses, basketball courts, soccer fields and playgrounds are closed
- essential retail capacity is reduced to 25 per cent
- non-essential construction workplaces closed
- starting Monday religious services limited 10 people indoors, drive-in services permitted
- starting Monday there will also be checkpoints at provincial borders with Manitoba and Quebec, with exceptions for business, medical care or the transport of goods
Ford also said enforcement will be ramped up, "We are taking decisive action on the ground to dramatically step up enforcement. We have made the difficult but necessary decision to give police and bylaw officers, special authorities to enforce public health measures for the duration of the stay at home order."
Police are temporarily being given additional authority to ask anyone not in a residence to give their reason for not being at home and to provide their home address, as well as to stop vehicles to ask about the reasons for leaving their home.
Solicitor General Sylvia Jones says, "It is imperative that everyone limit their trips outside of the home to permitted purposes only, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, medical appointments, outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely."
London police Const. Sandasha Bough said in a statement they are still awaiting specific details of the updated stay-at-home order so they can assess what they are being asked to do, including restrictions and exceptions.
"As we have been, our plan is to continue to engage, explain, educate and enforce. Our goal -- as should be the goal of everyone in the community -- is to help put an end to COVID-19 so that we can all return to ‘normal’ business. We ask for the community’s support in helping to achieve this."
Health Minister Christine Elliott also announced vaccines would be redirected to hot spots, with 25 per cent of future vaccine allocations going to 12 public health regions with higher rates of death, hospitalization and transmission.
It's unclear what impact this might have on the London region, which is already expecting a reduction in COVID-19 vaccines in coming weeks.
While the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) reported new daily records in recent days, with three of the highest daily case counts coming in the last seven days, it is not considered a hot spot.
After a spike in cases, on Wednesday Grey-Bruce asked all residents to consider themselves carriers and to stay home for 48 hours, while Windsor-Essex saw a jump in cases Thursday nearly bringing the daily report into triple digits.
The surge in cases came a little after a week of a province-wide stay-at-home order which followed an initial ‘circuit breaker’ shutdown.
As of April 16 there were more than 700 patients in Ontario ICUs.
At the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), nine staff and 65 inpatients are positive for COVID-19, with 28 in intensive care, an increase of four in the ICU over the last 24 hours.
The modelling released Friday shows a dramatic increase in intensive care occupancy no matter what changes are made, with a projection of 1,000 people in the ICU within two weeks.
Still stronger public health measures are expected to at least "blunt" the impact.
- With files from CTV London's Justin Zadorsky