Essential workers worried Ontario's latest COVID-19 'shutdown' won't protect them

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announces the province-wide “emergency brake” on Thursday Apr. 1 2021

"This is a new pandemic, we are now fighting a new enemy".

All indoor and outdoor sports and recreation facilities are also prohibited from operating.

Outdoor organized public events or social gatherings to a five-person maximum, except for gatherings with members of the same household, or gatherings of members of one household and one other person from another household who lives alone.

Capacity at weddings, funerals, and other religious services will be limited to 15 per cent capacity indoors.

Two-thirds of the province's public health units are now under what the government calls lockdown (grey zone) or control (red zone) restrictions. "One thousand per cent, it's the right decision".

"We're facing a very, very serious situation", Ford said during a media conference in Toronto.

Premier Doug Ford said he is pulling the emergency brake, just as restrictions across the province were easing. Today I need to make one of those tough decisions.

Employers in all industries should make every effort to allow employees to work from home.

By applying this "emergency brake", we will bridge the gap until the mass amounts of vaccine anticipated for delivery arrive in Ontario in the next few weeks.

Ontario announced a province-wide "emergency brake" shutdown beginning this weekend as Canada's most populous province struggles to cope with a surge in ICU admissions that provincial leaders said they feared was fueled by rapidly spreading coronavirus variants.

More than 150 intensive care unit doctors signed an open letter to the government on Thursday, calling for new, stricter, measures.

"The current measures and framework are not working to contain the spread of this virus", reads the letter in part.

"Because they are more transmissible and may have significant negative health impacts, we must remain vigilant".

Only eight per cent of those who live in the neighbourhoods with a high incidence of COVID-19 infections have been vaccinated, compared to 13 per cent of those who live in neighbourhoods with a low incidence.

She said stay-at-home-orders were not considered because the provincial government has already seen how "detrimental" those measures can be for both children and adults.

Peel saw 539 new cases on April 2, the region's highest daily case count since January 22.

The province also deemed 1,819 more cases of the disease to be resolved as of Saturday, bringing Ontario's number of recovered patients up to 327,940. "That is our best protection against this deadly virus", Ford added.

"Ontario, like many other provinces and jurisdictions around the world, is in the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and immediate action is required to help turn the tide", Elliott said.

Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the group, said short-term case projections will depend entirely on the public health measures implemented by the government and vaccination rates.

Brown said the province's vaccine rollout is not reaching the highest risk communities, hampering its impact as an effective strategy to fight the pandemic.

The four-week minimum of this new shutdown means all of Ontario, including Oakville and Halton Region, will remain in shutdown (unofficially known as the White-Shutdown level) for the rest of April 2021.

The province of Ontario is entering into a new category of its COVID-19 response framework, which will see new restrictions and limits on gatherings.

Ford says schools will remain open during the shutdown.

Unifor called on all provinces to mandate paid time off to allow workers to get vaccinated when it is their turn to do so.