Four-week provincewide shutdown confirmed

Ontario to go into month-long COVID-19 shut-down starting April 3

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

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said Thursday that the province made a decision to go with a shutdown versus full stay-at-home orders in order to lessen the impact on peoples' mental health.

"We are facing a very serious situation", Premier Doug Ford said during a media briefing on Thursday.

All 34 public-health regions went into the grey zone on December 26, followed by a provincewide stay-at-home order on January 14 that suspended the colour-coded system.

The "emergency brake" shutdown will last for a month and extend provincewide, the premier said. The planned April break for students and teachers will move ahead.

In order to support working families, child care will remain open during the shutdown. "Child care settings will continue to adhere to stringent health and safety measures so that they remain safe places for children and staff", reads the announcement.

The revised modelling comes as the province faces a worsening third wave of the pandemic, driven by the spread of variants of concern, particularly B117, the variant first identified in the United Kingdom.

Of the new cases reported in Ontario, 67 per cent are the result of a variant of concern.

Durham Region Health Department reported 104 new cases Wednesday, with 22 cases reported in Oshawa. Those include food, medication, medical appointments, supporting vulnerable community members or exercising outdoors with members of their household. Residents are also being asked to limit trips outside of their home unless it's for essential reasons. No indoor social gatherings are permitted and outdoor gatherings are limited to no more than five people. There will also be further restrictions on people gathering.

Ontario to go into month-long COVID-19 shut-down starting April 3

The lockdown, similar to current restrictions under the grey zone, will see essential stores - such as groceries and pharmacies - remain open at 50 percent capacity.

Businesses not permitted to open include: museums, personal care services day camps, casinos and bingo halls, concert venues and more.

Under the shutdown restaurants will be closed to in-person dining but allowed to open for takeout and delivery.

Religious, wedding, and funeral services are limited to 15 per cent capacity of the indoor room and outside is limited to the number of people that can safely physical distance from each other.

Under the province's new shutdown rules, all indoor organized events and social gatherings are prohibited.

The peak of 800 is expected, even if the province implements a stay-at-home order and continues vaccinations.

Six public health regions, including Toronto's and Hamilton's, are now in the grey "lockdown" zone of the province's colour-coded system.

Ontario's science advisers confirm the troubling trend, saying on Thursday that strict, stay-at-home orders are needed to control the third wave of COVID-19 in the province. The restrictions were decreased a couple weeks ago and the region is in the yellow - protect level right now.

To date, there have been 361 confirmed cases in the Porcupine Health Unit region. Of those, 221 are recovered and 44 people have died.