Ontario Premier Doug Ford is ramping up his government’s stringent new lockdown regime after issuing a provincewide stay-at-home order, which begins on Thursday April 8, 2021.

Ford made the announcement Wednesday afternoon following a closed door meeting with his cabinet. 

Beginning on Thursday, the order will go into effect for a 28-day period. Ford also declared a state of emergency due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases and variants. 

“I can’t stress this enough. Things are extremely, extremely serious right now. And I’m extremely concerned,” said Ford.

“The situation is evolving rapidly, hour by hour. And as things change, as we learn more about these deadly new variants, as we see new problems arise, we need to adapt. We need to move quickly and decisively. And right now, above all else, our plan is to get needles in the arms and protect our hospitals. That’s why, today, on the advice of the chief medical officer of health I’m declaring a state of emergency.”

The order will require all non-essential retailers to be closed for all indoor shopping or in-person dining. Gyms and personal care services like salons are also to be ordered closed. 

Meanwhile, big box retailers are being allowed to remain open to sell only essential items at a 25% capacity. Some categories of stores will be allowed to remain open including rental services, optical stores, vehicle or equipment repair stores and safety supply stores. 

Under the new rules, Ontario residents are only being permitted to leave their house for essential reasons like work, school or trips for essential goods like groceries and healthcare visits. 

“To boil it down as simple as possible, folks please stay home unless it is for an essential reason,” said Ford. 

“The situation is extremely serious and we just need to hunker down right now, we need to limit mobility.”

According to Ontario’s Education Minister Stephen Lecce schools will be allowed to remain open with public health measures currently in place. 

As the pandemic drags on, thousands of doctors and specialists have taken a stand against the use of lockdowns – including the World Health Organization

As Canadians’ mental health declines and drug overdoses and unemployment numbers skyrocket, many health experts are asserting that lockdowns are deadlier than the COVID-19 virus.