Today it has been announced that the province of Ontario will be moving into a new provincewide emergency brake in response to rapidly increasing COVID-19 numbers, including 2557 new cases today. On top of the increasing daily cases, ICU admissions have hit all-time highs, and the modelling data projects that ICU admissions will exceed 650 beds in the coming weeks.
Click here to check your eligibility and schedule your vaccine.
These new restrictions will be coming into effect on Saturday, April 3 at 12:01AM and will last for at least four weeks.
While most of these restrictions have already been in place in Toronto, there are some new additions and some cancellations to planned reopenings.
A key change for parents to note is the closure of all in-person day camps, including the cancellation of CampTO camps. The planned reopening of outdoor fitness classes has been rescinded. As well, the opening of salons and barbershops slated for later this month has been cancelled. Further, outdoor patio dining will not be allowed.
Other regulations from the government's press release include:
- Prohibiting indoor organized public events and social gatherings and limiting the capacity for outdoor organized public events or social gatherings to a 5-person maximum, except for gatherings with members of the same household (the people you live with) or gatherings of members of one household and one other person from another household who lives alone;
- Restricting in-person shopping in all retail settings, including a 50 percent capacity limit for supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers' markets, other stores that primarily sell food and pharmacies, and 25 percent for all other retail including big box stores, along with other public health and workplace safety measures;
- Prohibiting personal care services;
- Prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments will be permitted to operate by take-out, drive-through, and delivery only;
- Limiting capacity at weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites, or ceremonies to 15 percent occupancy per room indoors, and to the number of individuals that 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.
To read the full press release from the Government of Ontario, click here.
Frankly, it is incredibly frustrating that the Ford government has done so little between these lockdowns to address the systemic issues that continue to drive community spread of COVID-19.
Taking concrete steps on things like paid sick days, smaller classrooms, and comprehensive testing in essential workplaces would have made a real difference, and we wouldn’t be in such a dire situation if Premier Ford had acted.
Now, we find ourselves in a situation where increasing numbers of people are contracting COVID-19, and we must face a worse lockdown than we would have if he had simply listened to the experts who have been calling for more action.
His lack of leadership has been stunning – and Ontario deserves so much better.
Even back in February, his own Science Table was warning him that there was an impending third wave, that without action would result in a spike in cases are higher ICU admissions.
He did not act, and now those predictions are our reality.
This situation has also raised many questions for parents, and here is the latest information that we have regarding Ontario’s school system. Despite the “emergency brake”, schools will remain open, and the planned April break will continue in the week of April 12.
Read more about the situation in schools here.
In an important vaccine update, the city-run mass vaccination sites will be expanding their eligibility to residents born in 1961 or earlier beginning at 8AM tomorrow (April 2, 2021). That means that tomorrow morning you will be able to log on and book your vaccine at a mass vaccination site if you are eligible.
To book your vaccine at a mass vaccination site, click here.
In addition to this, participating pharmacies in Ontario will also be expanding their vaccine eligibility to anyone who is born in 1966 or earlier, beginning April 3. More pharmacies are also being brought into this program. As the list is currently evolving, I would recommend that you check the list of participating pharmacies to find the one closest to you.
Remember that you must book your appointment in advance, so make sure to contact them and schedule your appointment before going to the pharmacy.
Click here to find your nearest participating pharmacy.
As of March 31, Sunnybrook Hospital is expanding their booking vaccination appointments to people who are in the following categories:
- Organ transplant recipients
- Hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients
- People with neurological diseases in which respiratory function may be compromised (for example, motor neuron disease, myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis)
- Haematological malignancy diagnosed within the last year
- Kidney disease with estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) under 30
- Obesity (BMI over 40)
- Other treatments causing immunosuppression (for example, chemotherapy, immunity-weakening medications)
- Intellectual or developmental disabilities (for example, Down Syndrome)
Note: This is in addition to the groups who were previously eligible at Sunnybrook (people born 1951 or earlier, Indigenous adults, adults who receive home care, and healthcare workers).
To book your COVID-19 vaccine appointment at Sunnybrook, click here.
Small Business Grant
It has also been announced today that the Small Business Support Grant deadline has been extended by one week to April 7. If your business has been required to close, or you have had to significantly restrict your services, you should see if you are eligible for funding.
To find out if you’re eligible, click here.
Finally, of course, this weekend is Easter, and I want to let everyone know that my office will be closed on Friday and Monday, with our next newsletter coming on Tuesday next week, and then continuing as normal on Wednesday, and Friday.
I want to wish everyone who will be celebrating this weekend a safe and happy Easter! This year, Easter’s themes of renewal and hope are particularly poignant as we continue through this pandemic.
I'd also like to extend best wishes to my Jewish constituents observing the end of Passover on Saturday and Sunday.