Ontario to increase restrictions, close playgrounds and other outdoor amenities
Published April 16, 2021 at 5:04 pm
The Ontario government has announced a slate of harsh new restrictions, including bans on outdoor activities, restrictions on interprovincial travel and more sweeping police powers to enforce the current stay-at-home order.
In response to climbing case rates (Ontario reported 4,812 cases on April 16, with 1,469 new cases in Toronto and 851 in Peel), the province is enacting a slew of new restrictions on outdoor activities (which most health experts say are safer than indoor activities) and not closing non-essential warehouses or manufacturing facilities (where hundreds of outbreaks have been reported).
The government also made no mention of paid sick days for essential workers, something the science table advising the province has called for repeatedly, insisting that the current federal benefit does not go far enough.
“We’re losing the battle between variants and vaccine. The pace of vaccines has not kept up. We’re on our heels but if we dig in and are steadfast, we can turn this around. We’re down, but by no means are we out,” said Premier Doug Ford in a statement.
At the press conference, Ford said that the current stay-at-home order will last an additional two weeks (six weeks in total, with the possibility of extension) and that the province will close golf courses, playgrounds, outdoor soccer fields and outdoor basketball courts.
People can only gather outdoors with people they already live with and those who live alone can gather outdoors with one other household.
He also said that big box stores will be reduced to 25 per cent capacity and that places of worship will be restricted to 10 people indoors. Ford also said that non-essential construction sites (such as those building malls and hotels) will close and the province will restrict travel to and from Quebec and Manitoba.
Ford also said that the province will send 25 per cent more vaccines sent to hotspot regions such as Brampton, Mississauga, Caledon and Toronto. Ford also called on the federal government to procure more vaccine doses for the province, saying more supply is urgently needed.
At the press conference, Ford said that starting Monday, April 19, the province will set up checkpoints at all interprovincial borders and limit crossings into Manitoba and Quebec, adding that the province is calling on the federal government to restrict international travel further.
Ford also said that police and bylaw officers will be given new powers to enforce the stay-at-home order by stopping people and vehicles and asking them where they live, where they are going and why.
The Ontario government also said that businesses such as law offices and accounting firms will be inspected for COVID compliance, adding that people who can work from home must be allowed to do so.
What you need to know:
- Both the provincial declaration of emergency and the stay-at-home order have been extended for an additional two weeks.
- Starting April 17 until the stay-at-home order ends, police officers and other provincial offences officers can require any individual to provide their home address and purpose for not being at their residence.
- Police officers, special constables and First Nation Constables will also have the authority to stop vehicles to ask about an individual’s reasons for leaving their home.
- Travel into Ontario is restricted from the provinces of Manitoba and Quebec (with the exception of purposes such as work, health care services, transportation and delivery of goods and services or exercising Aboriginal or treaty rights).
- All outdoor social gatherings and organized public events are prohibited (except for with members of the same household or one other person from outside that household who lives alone or a caregiver for any member of the household).
- All non-essential workplaces in the construction sector will be closed.
- Capacity limits are reduced to 25 per cent in all retail settings where in-store shopping is permitted, including supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers’ markets, other stores that primarily sell food, and pharmacies.
- All outdoor recreational amenities will be closed, such as golf courses, basketball courts, soccer fields, and playgrounds with limited exceptions.
- Starting April 19, capacity is limited at weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies to 10 people indoors or outdoors. Social gatherings associated with these services such as receptions will be prohibited, except for with members of the same household or one other person from outside that household who lives alone. Drive-in services will be permitted.
- The province plans to dedicate 25 per cent of future vaccine allocations to hotspot communities such as Brampton, Mississauga, Caledon and Toronto.