Province plans to extend emergency orders until June 30
Published Monday, June 1, 2020 8:18AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 1, 2020 5:27PM EDT
The Ontario government plans to extend all emergency orders by another 28 days, the premier’s office confirmed on Monday.
A motion to extend the orders until June 30 will be debated at Queen’s Park on Tuesday, when the province’s most recent extension expires.
Premier Doug Ford first declared a state of emergency in the province on March 17 in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and it has since been renewed on multiple occasions.
The emergency orders include a ban on gatherings larger than five people and the closure of many businesses, including restaurants and bars that do not offer takeout or delivery.
The Ford government plans to reopen Ontario in three different stages and public health officials have said they need to see a consistent decline in new cases of the virus in order to continue to lift public health restrictions.
Ontario entered the first stage of the plan last month, which allowed many businesses, including retail stores with street entrances, to reopen to the public.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said Monday that Ontario still has "some distance to go" before reaching Stage 2.
"We need to take a careful and measured approach to any further opening up of the economy," she said at Queen's Park on Monday.
Elliott said the province will consider easing restrictions if new cases of the virus continue to decline and if there is sufficient capacity in Ontario’s hospitals.
"(The numbers) have bobbed up and down a little bit in the last week to 10 days but generally speaking they seem to be going down," she said.
She added that the province will also need to keep up with contact tracing and see that testing numbers remain strong in order to move to the second stage of the government's plan.
"We really need to measure at every step along the way what the impact is of each opening of public health," she said.
The number of new COVID-19 cases in Ontario jumped up above 400 on Sunday after nearly a week of cases in the 300-range and the vast majority of new infections in Ontario continue to originate in the Greater Toronto Area.
The concentration of cases in the GTA has prompted Ford to look at moving toward a more regional approach to reopening the province, a move he previously suggested he would not consider.
Ford said while he wants to see the economy reopen as soon as possible, it needs to be done "safely."
"We are working very aggressively on coming up with a plan to get the economy going based on the numbers," Ford said on Monday.
"Four weeks is a long time and a lot can happen in four weeks, especially if the numbers come down."