Ontario imposes province-wide shutdown as 3rd wave of pandemic hits hard

New measures for safety took effect Saturday April 3rd at 12:01 a.m., as officials try to combat the recent spike in COVID-19 infections.

The Ontario government has put in place a province-wide “emergency brake” over the past Easter long weekend. According to a news release from the province, the shut-down will last for at least four weeks with outdoor dining closed and outdoor fitness prohibited. 

"We are facing a serious situation and drastic measures are required to contain the rapid spread of the virus, especially the new variants of concern," said Premier Doug Ford in the press release.

"I know pulling the emergency brake will be difficult on many people across the province, but we must try and prevent more people from getting infected and overwhelming our hospitals. Our vaccine rollout is steadily increasing, and I encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. That is our best protection against this deadly virus."

Based on the most recent modelling data, variants of concern are continuing to grip the province and drive the third wave of the pandemic.

Dr. David Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, has asked that all Ontarians limit trips outside the home to only necessities such as food, medication, medical appointments, supporting vulnerable community members, or exercising outdoors with members of their household.

Employers and employees across all industries have been asked to work from home.

Restrictions for the shutdown include: 

  • Prohibiting indoor organized public events and social gatherings and limiting the capacity for outdoor organized public events or social gatherings to a 5-person maximum, except for gatherings with members of the same household (the people you live with) or gatherings of members of one household and one other person from another household who lives alone.
  • Restricting in-person shopping in all retail settings, including a 50 per cent capacity limit for supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers' markets, other stores that primarily sell food and pharmacies, and 25 per cent for all other retail including big box stores, along with other public health and workplace safety measures;
  • Prohibiting personal care services;
  • Prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments will be permitted to operate by take-out, drive-through, and delivery only;
  • Prohibiting the use of facilities for indoor or outdoor sports and recreational fitness (e.g., gyms) with very limited exceptions;
  • Requiring day camps to close; and,
  • Limiting capacity at weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies to 15 per cent occupancy per room indoors, and to the number of individuals that can maintain two metres of physical distance outdoors. This does not include social gatherings associated with these services such as receptions, which are not permitted indoors and are limited to five people outdoors.

The current COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open has also been put on pause when the emergency brake comes into effect. 

 As of April 3 2021, the numbers stand at:

  • 358,558 Total cases
  • 327,940 Resolved cases
  • 7,428 Deaths
  • 796 Hospitalized
  • 451 in the ICU due to COVID‑related illness
  • 261 in ICU on a ventilator due to COVID‑related illness

 Concern from doctors as 3rd wave hits

Meanwhile, the Ontario Medical Association and the Association of Local Public Health Agencies released a statement welcoming the government's call for a shut down but also expressed worry that it might not be enough.

“However, we strongly believe that a stay-at-home order is also required to successfully prevent further cases and strain on Ontario's acute care system as we continue to vaccinate more Ontarians,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, chair of the Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health, a section of alPHa.

“In the meantime, we cannot overemphasize the importance of limiting social contacts, maintaining physical distance, diligent mask wearing in situations where close contact may be unavoidable, and handwashing. These simple measures are critical to preventing cases and preserving our capacity to respond.”

Experts across the country have been weighing in on how to handle this new wave effectively. Many are asking Canadians to do the right thing and think about risk mitigation, follow provincial health and safety guidelines and get vaccinated.

CBC National invited infectious disease specialists Dr. Lynora Saxinger and Dr. Zain Chagla to discuss the latest restrictions in several provinces and how they feel about getting Canada through the 3rd wave of COVID-19.

 Top ten tips to follow 

Covergalls urges all our customers, friends, and family members to stay safe. Our one-year anniversary with the pandemic has come and passed. We know it's exhausting. But to keep yourself, your loved ones and vulnerable communities safe we need to work together.

Here is our advice: 

1. Get vaccinated if you are offered and eligible. Here is a vaccine information sheet to learn more about them. 

2. Try to limit your contact to members of your household only. Limiting social contact is key in prevention. 

3. Wear a mask. Our NEWEST three-layer mask follows guidelines - you can purchase it in our store! Here is an article refresher on some common questions about masks.

4. Avoid unnecessary travel. Avoid high traffic areas and big trips. 

5. Get tested if you suspect you might have COVID. Use these tools to help guide your steps.

 6. Trace contacts. Make sure to inform all involved individuals if you do end up getting a positive COVID test. 

7. Mind your mental health. Limitations are here again. We know it's frustrating. Try to pay attention to how you're feeling and communicate with loved ones.

8. Keep informed. Follow Ontario guidelines and restrictions and listen to public health officials on best practices. 

9. Connect virtually. We know it isn't the same, but it's a great and safe way to see colleagues, family members and friends. 

10. Stay positive. We’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming pandemic. Check out our shop for gear, follow our blog and social pages, and reach out to us if you have questions or concerns.