By: Surjit Singh Flora
Starting from Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. the Ford government issue a province-wide stay-at-home order that requires everyone to stay home, except for essential purposes, such as going to the supermarket or pharmacy, accessing health services, care services (including vaccinations), for exercising outdoors
After rumblings by provincial sources indicating a stay-at-home order was imminent, Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott confirmed the news Wednesday afternoon. “The next four weeks are critical,” said Ford, pointing to spiking COVID-19 case counts and positivity rates in Peel, Toronto, and other regions for the order. “Hope is on the horizon.”
Under the new stay-at-home order, non-essential businesses will remain limited to curbside pick-up and delivery through early May, with restricted pick-up and delivery hours.
Like the previous lockdown, essential businesses will remain open — this time, with new restrictions, as the province seeks to limit big-box retail stores to selling essential items only. While citing vaccinations as the “best hope to beat this virus.”
Ford also pointed to several trends that forced the province to act, including an increasing caseload in hospitals and ICUs, outbreaks in GTA-area schools and non-compliance from residents looking to shop as reasons for the order. The province reported a further 3,215 active cases and 17 deaths on Wednesday, with a positivity rate of 6.7 per cent.
“Stay at home., We did it before and it worked,” said Ford, who admitted that certain policies, such as trying to stop residents from moving region-to-region, can’t be enforced. “We don’t have police officers to chase people down – we ask for cooperation.” People have been complying, but a large part has not been, “or we wouldn’t be in this plight,” said Elliott.
Several sectors will also have limited in-person capacity at their businesses, with garden centres, indoor greenhouses, safety supply stores and others to utilize a 25 per cent capacity restriction. While the decision to move into a stay-at-home model was difficult, local leaders were supportive of the province’s decision. “I firmly believe this is the right course of action at this critical moment to reduce the spread of variant cases and COVID-19 hospitalizations,” Mayor Bonnie Crombie said Wednesday afternoon. “We are now more than a year into this pandemic… new variants are far more dangerous, spread faster and do more harm than the virus we were fighting last year.
While Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said, “They need to protect frontline staff and workers in manufacturing sectors, particularly with paid sick leave continues to be a key necessity. Lawrence Loh and I have been outspoken about the need for paid sick days,” said Brown. “I find it infuriating that here we are so far into the pandemic and we still have workers going to paycheque symptoms because they can’t afford to miss a pay cheque because they have to put food on the table or pay rent. Paid sick days are a critical tool we need for our vulnerable essential workers.” Others, including opposition parties, say more should have been done to protect workers in frontline sectors and not reduced provincial orders too early.
“This is a devastating day for people, families, and local businesses,” said provincial NDP leader Andrea Horwath Wednesday afternoon after the announcement.
But, for how long can the Ford government going to see the virus numbers going up and down and applying the same guidelines repeatedly? The government must get it under control before we can open back up; why can’t they find the areas that are giving us the problem and lock them down?
It would appear that factories and processing plant those are the biggest culprits, not retailers and outside patios. I have a suggestion — why are we not testing and vaccinating these places now? We are going to vaccinate all the population anyway. Why not make these factories a priority? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. They keep having the same results, so let’s fix it!
We are in a situation with an endgame, and we need to finish the path laid out for us. Reopen at the end of April and have schools back in two weeks, but you know what… it is all up to us. Wear the masks, keep your distance, and don’t gather in a group. The question is — Do you think the Ford government will do it right this time?