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Ontario ’emergency brake’ shutdown as cases rise in COVID-19 third wave

Details on the emergency brake shutdown were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Dr. Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown, Co-Chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.

Due to a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, the province has pulled its “emergency brake” and will go into shutdown mode beginning Saturday, April 3 for at least four weeks. It stops short of a stay-at-home order, but coming into the Easter long weekend, people are advised not to socialize, and to get vaccinated.

“We are in a desperate situation right now,” said Premier Doug Ford, during Thursday afternoon’s announcement. “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.”

Increases are being driven by COVID-19 variants which are transmitted easily and result in a higher risk of death and hospitalization, including in younger populations. Variants of concern are driving the third wave of the pandemic. Case rates are rising, especially with younger people and ICU capacity in the province is at risk of becoming overwhelmed.

Hastings Prince Edward County posted 32 new cases Wednesday, and 16 new cases Thursday which bring the active cases here to 84. There is one person hospitalized and one in ICU. There have been 30 variants of concern here.

Under shutdown, all Ontarians are asked to limit trips outside the home to necessities such as food, medication, medical appointments, supporting vulnerable community members, or exercising outdoors with members of their household. Employers in all industries should make every effort to allow employees to work from home.

The premier said keeping schools open is a priority with safety precautions in place but they will be monitored and he will “not hesitate to act” should the situation changes.

The current COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open, is paused when the province-wide emergency brake comes into effect.

Restrictions include:

– Prohibiting indoor organized public events and social gatherings, and limiting the capacity for outdoor gatherings to a five-person maximum — except for gatherings with members of the same household or gatherings of members of one household and one other person from another household who lives alone.
– Limits on in-person shopping, 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 a 25 per cent limit for all other retail including big box stores.
– No personal care services.
– No indoor and outdoor dining. Take out, delivery and drive thru options are still allowed.
– Prohibiting the use of facilities for indoor or outdoor sports and recreational fitness with very limited exceptions
– The closure of day camps
– Limiting capacity at weddings, funerals, and religious services to 15 per cent occupancy per room indoors, and to the number of people who 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.

Today, more pharmacy locations were added for people aged 55 or older to get the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. With today’s expansion there are 700 pharmacy locations offering vaccines. The Ontario government states this number could reach approximately 1,500 by the end of April. Ontario is not using AstraZeneca vaccine for individuals under 55, while data is being reviewed by Health Canada.

By appointment only, local locations include Pharma Plus in Picton and Kelly’s Drug Store in Belleville, as well as pharmacies in Campbellford, Napanee, Kingston and Amherstview. Click here for the full Ontario government listings of locations and hours. 

Applications for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant have been extended for one week through April 7 and all eligible businesses are encouraged to apply.

Additionally, the new Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant will provide an estimated $100 million in one-time payments of $10,000 to $20,000 to eligible small businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector. Businesses required to close or significantly restrict services due to provincial public health measures can continue to apply for property tax and energy cost rebates. Visit  for more information.



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  1. Kevin says:

    Get serious about the pandemic. My prediction is that case numbers will miraculously dip below a 1000 three and a half weeks into the “emergency brake”. We’ll be given a false sense of normalcy so that everyone can have an even better summer than last year, only to start all over again in October.

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