Ford government extends provincewide stay-at-home order until June 2
Published Thursday, May 13, 2021 7:42AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 13, 2021 12:22PM EDT
Premier Doug Ford said his government is extending the provincewide stay-at-home order until June 2 in an effort to "protect this summer for all Ontarians."
Ford confirmed the two-week extension at a news conference at Queen’s Park on Thursday afternoon.
"The situation is slowly trending in a better direction. Make no mistake. We’re not out of the woods yet. Our hospitals are still under immense pressure, the spread of variants remains a major concern. So we must stay vigilant," Ford said.
"We must keep doing what we’re doing and what’s working. We need to do everything in our power to protect this summer for all Ontarians. Obviously that won’t mean large sporting events or concerts. But if we manage the next few weeks properly, I believe that we can have things in a very good place this summer. To do so, we need to keep driving cases down and easing the pressure on our hospitals."
The stay-at-home order was first implemented on April 8 and has now been extended twice due to high levels of COVID-19 transmission in the province.
Despite calls to reopen outdoor amenities to encourage safe outdoor activities during the lockdown, it appears the Ford government intends to keep those closed until at least next month. The province said it will consider reopening outdoor amenities, including tennis and basketball courts and outdoor sports fields, on June 2.
Ford said he is concerned about the "mobility" that is associated with certain sports, including golf.
“I understand, believe me, the weather’s nice. Everyone wants to get out. You know I’d love to get out golfing. I’m a terrible golfer but I’d love to get out golfing. And right now, you know, the ICUs are still at risk. I think yesterday’s number was 805, and that’s not good,” Ford said.
“As much as we’re seeing a decline, which is good, everyone is moving forward, we’re getting the vaccines in the people’s arms, but we just can’t risk it. Just hang in there for... just a couple more weeks.”
Officials say they need to see a big drop in the number of new cases and hospitalizations in order to lift restrictions.
Provincial health officials logged 2,759 new infections today and the rolling seven-day average of new cases now stands at 2,729.
"First we do need to see an increase in the vaccination rate and we’re well on track to vaccinate 65 per cent of Ontarians over age 18 by the end of May. But we also need to see lower numbers in the case rate, lower numbers of hospitalizations, lower numbers of people in our intensive care units as well," Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said Thursday.
"We need to do this to make sure that our health system can deal with this capacity."
The province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said Ontario would need to see daily COVID-19 case counts well below 1,000 before the stay-at-home order could be lifted.
"We have to stay there for days because those are delayed metrics for the ICU numbers and hospitalization numbers," he said.
"At the same time, we want to see what is it going to be the impact of our vaccination on our population at large. Are we going to see a lot more people who may have mild symptoms but who basically do not need hospitalization or (are) not going to the hospital? Is that going to impact us? Are we going to see that?"
Children aged 12 to 17 can book shot at the end of May
Ford also confirmed Thursday that during the week of May 31, children between the ages of 12 and 17 will be eligible to book their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which is the only vaccine that is currently authorized to be used for that age group.
The province said special dedicated youth and family clinics will also be set up to vaccinate those 12 and up and their unvaccinated family members during the weeks of June 14 and 21.
Remote-learning will also continue for all publicly funded and private elementary and secondary schools and Ford would not confirm Thursday if students will return to the classroom before the end of the year.
"We need public health doctors, teachers, and labour partners to agree on the best path forward," Ford said about the possibility of reopening schools. "We simply don’t have that right now. So for the time being, we will need to continue with virtual learning. We will take this time to vaccinate as many teachers and students as possible."