The Ontario government is moving to activate an “emergency brake” for four weeks across the entire province in response to rising COVID-19 cases and strained capacity at intensive care units.
While the move came after an hours-long meeting of the Ontario cabinet on Wednesday, several health-care professionals in the province have pleaded for government intervention in recent weeks.
Many of the logistical details were still being sorted out Wednesday night. However, government and political party sources said the emergency measure, as of Wednesday night, would take effect as of 12:01 a.m. on Saturday.
The sources said the restrictions will generally be similar to what is seen in the grey lockdown level of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework.
Under the plan, indoor and patio dining will be banned and restaurants can only operate with takeout and delivery options.
When it comes to retail businesses deemed “non-essential,” multiple sources said those are expected to remain open with 25 per cent of the approved capacity.
Multiple sources also said Ontario’s schools would likely remain open after the Easter weekend until the April break, which is scheduled for the week of April 12. However, the exact details of that plan weren’t firm as of late Wednesday. They added a decision hasn’t been made on what will happen after the break as that will depend on further information from public health officials.
The sources, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly, also emphasized the details were current as of Wednesday evening and could be the subject of change before the announcement is officially made on Thursday.