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Ontario to impose stay-at-home order, close non-essential retail, sources say - CDC

APRIL 07, 2021

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is scheduled to hold a news conference at 2 p.m. ET. You'll be able to watch it live in this story.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford's cabinet has approved a provincewide stay-at-home order and will close non-essential retail stores for all but curbside pickup, multiple sources told CBC News Tuesday night.

The move comes in the wake of criticism that restrictions announced last week — what the government called "emergency brake" measures — are insufficient to slow the spread of Ontario's third wave of COVID-19.

The Ministry of Health reported another 3,215 cases of the illness Wednesday morning, the most on a single day since Jan. 17, when the second wave was at its peak in the province. Health units also logged 17 more deaths of people with COVID-19, pushing the official toll to 7,475.

The seven-day average of daily cases has climbed to 2,988, its highest point since January 18.

The upward trend in new infections comes as the province logged a record-high day for vaccinations, with 104,382 doses administered yesterday, according to the ministry.

Meanwhile, sources familiar with cabinet's decision said the stay-at-home order would take effect at 12:01 a.m. ET Thursday and last up to four weeks. CBC News is not naming the sources because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the announcement.

The sources said only grocery stores and pharmacies would be permitted to stay open for customers to shop indoors. They said big box retail stores would be restricted to selling only grocery and pharmacy items for in-person shopping.

Garden centres would also be permitted to stay open, according to the sources.

There is no indication that a provincewide closure of schools is part of the government's plan. In the stay-at-home order that was in place in Ontario in February, schools were explicitly excluded.

One of the sources said manufacturing and construction sites will be permitted to continue operating, with increased COVID-19 testing and more enforcement of public health guidelines, but CBC News could not obtain independent confirmation of that detail.

Earlier Tuesday, Ford defended the measures he'd announced last week, yet hinted additional restrictions were coming.

"I think we made massive moves last week by basically shutting down the entire province," Ford said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

"That was huge, shutting down thousands and thousands of businesses, that I hate doing, but we're going to have further restrictions moving forward, very, very quickly."

Even though the government's measures left malls open over the Easter weekend, Ford scolded Ontarians for going shopping.

"I truly was hoping that people wouldn't be going in there to the volume that we saw," Ford said during the news conference.

"A lot of people were going into the malls and doing their little wander around and coming out with no bags," he said. "I'm sorry, but going to the malls is not essential."

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