The Ford government has extended all emergency orders put in place under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until April 23.
The declaration, which was first put in place back on March 17, extends the closure of outdoor amenities in parks and recreational areas, non-essential workplaces and licensed daycares – except those providing child care for health care and frontline essential workers.
The extension also means bars and restaurants and public places will remain closed, restricts the gathering of more than five people in any one place and prohibits price gouging.
As well new measures have been introduced to allow hospitals to use space in retirement homes and repurpose existing buildings or erect temporary structures in order to treat patients. There is also a ban on recreational camping on Crown lands retroactive to April 9.
“I understand the actions we are taking are affecting the lives and livelihoods of people across the province, but these are extraordinary times and we need to do whatever we can to keep individuals and families safe and stop the spread of this terrible virus,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We all must continue to do our part by staying home and practicing physical distancing.”
The province says the actions taken are all on the advice of Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer.
Ford has not yet said whether the school closures would last for the remainder of this school year, adding it would be premature at this point.
“That will be a decision we’ll be making after we speak to our chief medical officer. At the end of the day, he’s going to have the call on this,” said Ford, adding that the province is expecting a spike in cases in two weeks.
“The last thing we want to do is put our kids in harm’s way.”
Meanwhile, Health Minister Christine Elliot said the province would look at new measures supporting workers at long-term care homes.
She said the province will try to ensure that workers that are employed part-time at multiple care homes will be able to find full-time work at a single home to reduce the risk of the virus spreading in multiple facilities.
“We’re examining that now to figure out how we can make sure someone is able to get that employment they need in one home so they don’t have move to two or three,” said Elliott.
“That’s going to be a key method of keeping COVID-19 out of long term care homes.”
Elliott said there are 101 long-term care homes in Ontario that are currently dealing with outbreaks of the coronavirus.