RELEASE: Statement from Warden Bob Crate on provincial shutdown

RELEASE: Statement from Warden Bob Crate on provincial shutdown

Essential stores will remain open at 50 percent capacity and non-essential retail, including shopping malls, can operate at 25 percent capacity, reports CTV News Toronto. The total number of new confirmed cases in Ontario has exceeded 2,000 every day for over a week, including another 2,557 cases confirmed this morning-the single highest count since mid-January.

Rather than introducing that measure, the province has encouraged people to get tested for COVID-19 so they can apply for federal benefits if the virus forces them to stay home.

As of yesterday, there were 430 patients with COVID-19 being treated in intensive care units in the province, according to Critical Care Services Ontario (CCSO), the most at any single point during the pandemic.

Crawley writes that "the only difference between this and the current lockdown provisions now seen in some areas of the province appears to be the closure of patio dining and golf courses, alongside a limit of five people instead of 10 for outdoor gatherings".

Weddings, religious services, and funerals are limited to 15 per cent occupancy per room, with two metres of social distancing required.

The third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario is being driven by variants of concern and younger people are being hospitalized, with officials noting their cases are more acute and critical.

Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has been in the red-control zone of the framework since the shutdown ended, with the exception of a week (March 1-7) in grey-lockdown.

Ontario Locks Down With Virus 'Killing Faster and Younger'

Ontario declared a four-week state of emergency after hitting a record for the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care, driven by virus strains that are more contagious and unsafe.

Brown says the spread of the variants threatens the province's ICU admissions.

He said hospitalizations in Ontario have surged by almost 42 per cent in the last two weeks.

Ontarians need to limit their movements, especially between regions with different levels of community transmission, said Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health.

"Vaccination is not reaching the highest risk communities, delaying its impact as an effective strategy", they add.

The opposition NDP accused Ford of walking Ontario into the shutdown "with eyes wide open". "That is our best protection against this deadly virus". "The public health measures fall short of what many experts are calling for". During a news conference on Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford hinted restrictions were coming.

This story was updated at 4:31 include comment from the Ontario NDP.

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