Ontario cabinet considering issuing stay-at-home order, sources say

TORONTO — Ontario’s cabinet is discussing whether to issue a stay-at-home order after a request was made by three of the province’s top doctors, sources have confirmed to CTV News Toronto.

On Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford hinted that further restrictions could be coming.

Multiple sources have since confirmed to CTV News Toronto that a stay-at-home order is being actively considered by the Ontario government, but it’s not clear if the order would be issued provincewide or would go into effect regionally.

The province was placed into a shutdown over the weekend, which closed all in-person dining, fitness facilities and personal care services. Retail stores were all allowed to remain open with strict capacity limits.

A stay-at-home was not issued at the time.

On Tuesday, Ford specifically mentioned the regions of Toronto, Peel and York when teasing further restrictions.

“We’re going to have further restrictions moving forward very, very quickly. And again, we have to focus on where we see the problem three regions, York, Peel, in Toronto represents 60 per cent of the COVID cases,” he said. “When you have an inferno going on somewhere, you have to turn the hoses there, you have to continue doing the whole province, but we’re really focusing on the, on the hot areas.”

“I hate doing that, but we’re going to have further restrictions.”

No further details were provided about what kind of restrictions may be put in place.

The consideration of a stay-at-home order comes after a letter was sent to Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health on April 4 saying that stronger measures are required to curb the spread of the super contagious COVID-19 variants.

The letter was signed by Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, Peel Region’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh and Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches.

“A stay-at-home order issued by the province through an emergency order is necessary to prevent and mitigate large scale morbidity and mortality and irreparable strain on the health-care system” the letter said. “Stricter lockdowns have been shown to be effective in other countries to control transmission while vaccine campaigns progressed to achieve sufficient population coverage to supress transmission.”

On Tuesday, Dr. David Williams acknowledged that he had seen the letter and would be discussing further measures with the government.

The provincial government previously said they did not want to issue a stay-at-home order because it produced “tremendous ill effect on both children and adults.”

A stay-at home was recommended by the province’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table as being one of the measures necessary to control the spread of the variants. Even with a stay-at- home order, the table predicted Ontario could see up to 800 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units (ICU) by the end of April.

Nearly 15,000 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Ontario over the past five days and the number of patients with the disease in ICUs has surpassed the 500 mark for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic

With files from CTV News Toronto’s Colin D’Mello

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