The ongoing state of emergency in Ontario has officially been extended, meaning at least two more weeks of widespread business closures and social distancing.
Premier Doug Ford announced Thursday morning that all emergency orders put into place by the government on March 17 (and all that have been initiated since) will be in effect until May 6, 2020, at the earliest.
The orders include the closure of non-essential services, the closure of provincial parks and park amenities, the closure of all bars, clubs, entertainment venues and in-person restaurant dining spaces, as well as restrictions that limit social gatherings to no more than five people at a time.
"On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government is extending all emergency orders that have been put in place to-date under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until May 6, 2020," reads a release from the province issued Thursday.
"This extension will help protect the health and well-being of people across the province and stop the spread of COVID-19."
To protect the health and well-being of people across the province and stop the spread of #COVID19, the Ontario government has extended emergency orders until May 6. Learn more: https://t.co/8buMVc2q19 pic.twitter.com/b1XNaRbNQ4— Ministry of the Solicitor General (@ONsafety) April 23, 2020
Ford did say earlier this month that we'd likely be in lockdown until at least mid-May, but today's announcement makes the extension official for at least two weeks — regardless of how successful our efforts in combating the virus prove.
"We are making steady progress in our battle against this deadly virus, but we are not out of the woods by a long shot. It is absolutely necessary to extend these emergency orders to continue keeping all Ontarians safe and healthy," said Ford in this morning's release.
"Every effort made by each of us to stay home, practise physical distancing and wash your hands has been, and will continue to be, the key to stopping the spread of this virus."
In addition to extending the already-active emergency orders, the province has put several new measures into place that will "allow mental health and addictions agencies to redeploy staff within different locations or between programs."
Such agencies will also be permitted to employ extra part-time staff, temporary staff or contractors "in order to ensure people continue receiving the high quality care they expect and deserve during the COVID-19 outbreak."
NEW: Ontario is extending all emergency orders -- including the closure of parks and rec spaces, limits on social gatherings and non-essential workplace closures -- until May 6.— Colin D'Mello CTVNews (@ColinDMello) April 23, 2020
The official state of emergency lasts until May 12 and can re-extended beyond that. #onpoli pic.twitter.com/XG0h8b4OgJ
It remains to be seen when life will go back to normal for Ontario, but Ford made crystal clear during his daily press conference on Wednesday that it won't be anytime soon, and that it won't happen overnight.
"I've gotta be very, very clear: There's never going to be one date that we just open up the economy," said Ford in response to a question about a potential May 2-4 weekend re-opening date.
"We're going to open it up with a trickle and just let it flow from there and constantly measure... But by no means are we going to have, for instance, the May 24th weekend, we're just going to open things up. That is absolutely not going to happen."
As of 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 22, nearly 13,000 cases of COVID-19 had been recorded through Ontario's integrated Public Health Information System.
More than 6,680 patients across the province have now recovered, while 713 have died on account of contracting the 2019 novel coronavirus.
The World Health Organization is currently reporting 2,471,136 confirmed cases and 169,006 deaths around the globe.
by Lauren O'Neil via blogTO