The Ontario government is looking to extend the provincewide stay-at-home order past its scheduled end date of May 20 and into June amid the third wave of COVID-19, sources tell Global News.
The Ford government cabinet is working to finalize the date, however, sources said the province is looking to extend the order until at least June 2.
The stay-at-home order was first implemented on April 8 in an effort to curb increasing case numbers as well as high hospitalization rates in the province.
The government has already taken steps towards maintaining restrictions — last week it extended the state of emergency to June 2, paving the way for Premier Doug Ford and his cabinet to prolong the stay-at-home order under that declaration.
“We are looking at things daily, what I do know is that we are going to have to see our numbers go down they are under 3,000 today which is encouraging and the numbers in intensive care are at 828 but that still is very high, and we need to see them go down more before we can change the stay-at-home order,” said Health Minister Christine Elliott.
“The medical experts have been very clear we need to stay the course for right now,” she continued.
Elliott wouldn’t confirm exactly where the numbers need to be for the stay-at-home order to be lifted.
Ontario Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said at a press conference on Monday he’d like for cases to be under at least 1,000 a day to see an easing of restrictions.
Under the order, stores providing essential goods remain open but are only permitted to sell grocery and pharmacy items. Non-essential retailers are limited to curbside pickup and delivery. Restaurants and gyms are closed for in-person service.
The province has also shut outdoor recreational facilities, except playgrounds, saying the measure is meant to discourage mobility at a time when residents are expected to stay home as much as possible.
The government’s science advisers criticized the restriction of outdoor activities, saying they will not control COVID-19 and disproportionately harm children and those who don’t have access to their own green space.
On Monday, Ontario reported 2,716 new COVID-19 cases bringing the provincial total to 495,019. The province has reported 8,327 total deaths since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.
The news comes as businesses including restaurants and fitness companies are calling on the government to allow them to open up. Global News has reported on several companies who have reopened or remained open despite the stay-at-home order.
At a press conference on Monday, Toronto Mayor John Tory said he and other mayors from the surrounding GTHA have asked for clarification from the province to allow for businesses and companies to be able to make plans for the future.
However, at the same press conference Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said that she would support an extension due to case counts still remaining high in the city.
“We still face new daily cases in Toronto close to or above 1,000 a day. This reflects the nimbleness and infectiousness of the variants. We face a much different intruder than we used to,” de Villa said, adding Toronto Public Health (TPH) has looked at the modelling as June approaches.
De Villa said the projections suggest that if we maintain the current level of contact, the City could see 400 cases by June 1, however, if some restrictions are lifted and transmission increases by “as little as 20 per cent,” then case counts could be approximately 800 a day by June.
“I am of the belief that there is little likelihood the facts will change sufficiently by May 20 when the current order is set to expire,” de Villa continued.
“I believe we cannot vaccinate our way out of this third wave but vaccination will be a powerful launchpad toward a more normal way of living after this wave passes.”
—With files from Travis Dhanraj and The Canadian Press