UPDATE: State of Emergency in Effect in Ontario
Effective immediately, Ontario is declaring a state of emergency for a minimum of 28 days.
Under the declaration of a provincial emergency, the government is allowing all enforcement and provincial offence officers, including the Ontario Provincial Police, local police forces, bylaw officers, and provincial workplace inspectors, to issue tickets to those who do not comply with a new stay-at-home order.
Ontarians caught violating the stay-at-home order could face a fine and prosecution under the Reopening Ontario Act and the Emergency Management and Civil Emergency Management (EMPCA).
Penalties for breaking the stay-at-home order could include up to a year in jail, according to Solicitor General Sylvia Jones.
The new measures also include restricting the hours of operation for non-essential retail stores such as hardware stores to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
The stay-at-home order will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, meaning residents will be required to remain home except for essential activities such as grocery shopping or medical appointments.
When it comes to school, the return of students to in person-learning has been pushed back from January 25 to Feb 10 in hotspots including, Windsor-Essex, Toronto, Hamilton, York and Peel.
The premier announced the restrictions Tuesday, shortly after the province released new projections that show the virus is on track to overwhelm Ontario's health-care system.
Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, one of the experts behind the projections, says that if the province's COVID-19 positivity rate is at five per cent, Ontario will see more than 20,000 new cases a day by the middle of next month.
Ontario reported 2,903 new cases of COVID-19 today, including eight new cases of a variant from the United Kingdom.
The province also reported 41 more deaths linked to the virus.
— With files from CTV Toronto and The Canadian Press