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Statement from Warden Bob Crate on provincial shutdown — RELEASE

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced a province-wide COVID-19 shutdown

Ontario logged 3,009 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday and 3,089 cases on Friday, a day on which data sharing was paused for the Good Friday holiday.

"We are facing a serious situation and drastic measures are required to contain the rapid spread of the virus, especially the new variants of concern", said Premier Doug Ford in a statement Thursday.

"This is a new pandemic". The processes we now have in place to protect staff and members of the public are in compliance with the new measures announced by the Province, and will ensure ongoing business continuity as we continue to deliver the essential municipal services on which our community relies.

In-person dining, personal care services and gyms will close again for the next four weeks. This includes prohibiting all indoor organized public gatherings and limiting outdoor gatherings to a five-person maximum, except for gathering with members of the same household.

Ontario has entered a new level of restrictions, but Doug Ford's government says schools will remain open.

Ford is expected to announce another provincewide shutdown due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Thursday's lockdown will require the closure of hair salons, gyms, and indoor dining in regions not now under such restrictions.

Day camps, however, will be closed.

Experts say inconsistent public health messaging in parts of Canada has plagued the country's handling of the pandemic since COVID-19 first started circulating here.

That assessment warned that COVID-19 is spreading far more quickly than it was before and "killing faster and younger", with a higher propotion of younger people being admitted to hospital intensive care units, and recommended a four-week stay-at-home order to reduce the spread of infections.

Doctor Abdu Sharkawy, who works at Toronto Western Hospital, said the 47-year-old teacher tested positive for COVID-19 after coming in contact with a student who was also positive. "But the bottom line is that we need more time", said Ford.

The rules are slightly more lax for religious, wedding and funeral services in Ontario, however, with indoor events permitted to host up to 15 per cent of a room's capacity. The province hit a new high on ICU patients on Wednesday.

Restricting in-person shopping in all retail settings, including a 50% capacity limit for grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers' markets, other stores that primarily sell food and pharmacies, and 25 per cent for all other retail including big box stores, along with other public health and workplace safety measures.

"Stay tuned. You'll hear an announcement tomorrow but I'm very, very concerned to see the cases go up", he said, reports Global News.

Sharkawy also took aim at Ontario's latest COVID-19 shutdown, saying that "putting a blanket shutdown on the entire province is a ruse".

The government is asking Ontarians to limit trips outside the home to necessities such as food, medication and other essential services.

Stay-at-home orders and stricter measures were gradually lifted across Ontario in February and March, only for cases to spike in the following weeks.