TORONTO -- The Ontario government has issued a stay-at-home order for the province beginning on Jan. 14 and has immediately declared a second state of emergency for the province.
Premier Doug Ford announced on Tuesday at Queen's Park that the new stay-at-home order will require everyone to remain at home, with the exception for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store, pharmacy, accessing health-care services, for exercise, or for essential work.
Under the declaration of a provincial emergency, the government is providing all enforcement and provincial offence officers, including the Ontario Provincial Police, local police forces, bylaw officers, and provincial workplace inspectors to issue tickets to those who do not comply with the stay-at-home order.
The government said those who do not abide by the orders will be subject to fines and/or prosecution under both the Reopening Ontario Act and the EMCPA.
Schools in Toronto, York Region, Hamilton, Peel Region and Windsor-Essex will also not return to in-person learning until Feb. 10.
As part of the new rules, all non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m.
The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery.
Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are further restricted to a limit of five people.
Non-essential construction is also further restricted, including below-grade construction.
"When we have stay-at-home order, that’s pretty serious," Ford said. "Last week I stood here and I told you our province is in crisis. The facts are clear: cases and deaths are the highest since the start of the pandemic and community spread continues to escalate."
Ford says he knows everyone "wants to return to normal," but stressed the health-care system is "on the brink of collapse."
"I know the actions we've announced today are difficult but they're absolutely necessary."
Ford announced the restrictions shortly after the province released new projections that show COVID-19 is on track to overwhelm Ontario's health-care system.
The predictions represent an increase from the previous data released in December, which suggested that under the "maximum likelihood estimate" Ontario would see a little under 50 deaths daily by next month.
The province confirmed 2,903 cases of the novel coronavirus on Tuesday after eight consecutive days of case numbers over the 3,000 mark. Health officials logged 3,338 new infections on Monday, and a record-breaking number of 3,945 on Sunday.
While the province has reported a drop in cases Tuesday, with just over 40,000 COVID-19 tests completed, the positivity rate of 7.8 is higher that what it was on the previous five days.
The province's seven-day average for number of infections recorded is now 3,523, up from 2,646 one week ago.