Ontario to enact month-long stay-at-home order beginning Thursday: sources

Ford

The Ford government is set to announce a provincewide, month-long stay-at-home order today similar to what was enacted in January in a bid to stem the third wave of COVID-19, multiple sources say.

Sources tell CP24 and CTV News Toronto that subject to final approval today, the order will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday and will close all retail outlets for in-person shopping other than grocery stores and pharmacies.

Big box stores will be allowed to open for sale of essential goods only.

All other retailers, including malls, will be restricted to curbside pickup.

The order is expected to last four weeks, meaning it could end on May 6.

The Ford cabinet met Tuesday afternoon to determine the restrictions, after Premier Ford said more must be done to quell the “inferno” of cases coming from Toronto, Peel and York regions.

Cabinet will meet again Wednesday to finalize details of the new restrictions, sources said.

Ontario’s daily COVID-19 case growth more than tripled through the month of March, leading to record-high hospital ICU occupancy of more than 500 by early April.

The growth in cases prompted three of the province’s 34 local medical officers of health to shut all schools for in-person learning over the past two days.

The province’s active caseload was above 26,000 on Tuesday. It has only ever exceeded 30,000 once, in early January.

The third wave of infection was driven primarily by a more transmissible and deadly variant of coronavirus known as B.1.1.7.

First discovered in southwestern England in Sept. 2020, it now makes up at least two thirds of all new cases in Ontario, according to epidemiologists.

It is believed to be at least 60 per cent more deadly than earlier wild strains of the virus circulating in Ontario.

During Ontario's previous stay-at-home order, all work an employer could not justify as essential was to be performed by employees at home, and people were asked not to travel to other jurisdictions overnight or gather indoors with members of a different household.

Ford, Health Minister Christine Elliott, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams are set to speak about the order on Wednesday at 2 p.m. from Queen’s Park.

With files from CTV News' Colin D'Mello and CP24's Cristina Tenaglia