New COVID-19 Enforcement Measures and Two-Week Extension of Emergency Declaration, and Emergency Child Care
New COVID-19 Enforcement Measures and Extension of Emergency Declaration
Late this afternoon the Province announced that the province-wide emergency declaration will be extended by an additional two weeks, effective immediately. New enforcement measures and restrictions are being implemented to help Ontario manage through the third wave of COVID-19 in order to protect the health and safety of Ontarians.
As of 12:01 a.m. on April 18th, the new restrictions will apply provide-wide:
- Outdoor gatherings will be strictly limited to members of the same household only, or with one other household if that individual lives alone.
- In-person shopping at stores that primarily sell food and pharmaceutical goods, grocery, and “big box” stores will be restricted to 25% occupancy.
- Only essential construction will be able to continue (e.g., assessment centres, hospitals, long-term care homes). Non-essential construction (e.g., shopping malls, office towers, and hotels) is not allowed.
- All outdoor amenities will be closed (e.g., playgrounds, basketball courts).
As of 12:01 a.m. on April 19th, additional changes will include:
- Restricting indoor participation at places of worship, funerals, and weddings to 10 people.
- Checkpoints will be created to restrict mobility at interprovincial borders between Quebec and Manitoba, with exceptions for work, transportation of goods, and medical appointments.
To accompany these restrictions, the Ministry of Labour has increased the number of inspectors for workplaces, to ensure that any employee that is not required to work outside of the home, stays at home.
The Ministry of the Solicitor General has also provided new temporary enforcement powers of by-law, Provincial Offences Act (POA), First Nation Constables, and police officers. Some of these powers include the ability to ask Ontarians to provide the purpose of being outside the home, to ask their personal address, and police officers will be able to stop cars to inquire into why they are outside the home.
Regarding vaccine distribution, the Province continued to call on the federal government to increase its supply of vaccines. With that supply, the Province announced that 25% of future vaccine supply will be targeted to the “hotspot” neighborhoods. The Minister of Health defined those as 12 Public Health Units that have historical and ongoing high rates of deaths, transmission, and spread of COVID-19. It was noted that 80% of the current COVID-19 cases are occurring in 20% of the province and they want these areas targeted.
Additional information will be shared with members as soon as it becomes available and it is expected that further provincial details on all of the above, especially with respect to the enhanced enforcement provisions, essential services under these orders, and the accompanying Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) regulations will be provided likely early next week.
Emergency Child Care for Health Care and Other Frontline Workers
The government announced it is, again, funding free emergency child care, available for school-aged children of health care and other frontline workers. These include many categories of municipal staff. The list published today includes occupations such as police, firefighters, paramedics, nurses in long-term care and some staff delivering transit, waste, and water services.
To confirm a specific occupation and for a full list of eligible workers, see the Ontario website. Note this list could potentially be modified at any time. The government is advising parents with a school-aged child or children and on the eligibility list looking to access an emergency child care program, to contact the local municipal service system manager for information on availability, program locations, and registration.