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Bill Walker MPP Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound
Queen's Park

Bill Walker MPP

COVID 19 - RESOURCES & INFORMATION

September 14, 2021

Ontario Releasing Guidance to Support Proof of Vaccination Policy

Province Continues to Expand Third Dose Eligibility for Those at Highest Risk of COVID-19


TORONTO — As the province continues to respond to the fourth wave of the pandemic driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant, the government is further protecting Ontarians through continued actions that encourage every eligible person to get vaccinated and help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Today the government released the regulations and guidance for businesses and organizations to support them in implementing proof of vaccination requirements, which take effect on September 22, 2021. Requiring proof of vaccination will help increase vaccination rates, protect individuals in higher-risk indoor settings, and keep businesses open.

“High rates of vaccination against COVID-19 are critical to helping protect our communities and hospital capacity while keeping Ontario schools and businesses safely open,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “As we continue our last mile push to increase vaccination rates, requiring proof of immunization in select settings will encourage even more Ontarians to receive the vaccine and stop the spread of COVID-19. If you haven’t received your first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, please sign up today.”

In advance of September 22, all Ontarians can print or download their vaccination receipt from the provincial booking portal. The Ministry is working on additional supports and services to assist Ontario residents who need help obtaining proof of vaccination, including requesting a copy be sent by mail. Those who need support obtaining a copy of their vaccination receipt including those who do not have access to a computer or printer can call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900.

Ontario is developing an enhanced vaccine certificate with a unique QR code to make it safer, more secure and convenient to show that you have been vaccinated, when required to do so. The enhanced vaccine certificate and verification app will be available by October 22, 2021. Ontario’s proof of vaccination guidance will be updated to reflect the new processes.

“Businesses need a smart, quick and safe solution to verify vaccination,” said Kaleed Rasheed, Associate Minister of Digital Government. “The made-in-Ontario enhanced vaccine certificate for the public and the verification app for businesses are tools to confirm that an individual has been vaccinated while protecting Ontarians’ health data.”

The proof of vaccination policy has resulted in a marked increase in vaccination rates. Between September 1 and September 8, 2021, the seven-day average for first doses administered increased by more than 29 per cent, from over 11,400 doses to over 14,700 doses. During that time, more than 90,000 first doses and 102,000 second doses were administered in Ontario to individuals aged 18 to 59.

To further increase vaccine uptake, the province is continuing its last mile strategy to reach eligible individuals who have yet to receive a first or second dose. This includes:

  • The provincial call centre booking or rebooking more than 135,000 appointments;
  • The GO-VAXX bus administering more than 3,700 doses with 50 per cent being first doses, since launching on August 7, 2021;
  • Setting up a Provincial Vaccine Confidence Line that individuals can call to speak with an experienced agent or health specialist about COVID-19 vaccine questions; and
  • Supporting more than 550 vaccination clinics in or nearby elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools that are currently operational or planned for the near future.

“As we continue to see cases of COVID-19 in our communities, we must keep up the fight against the transmission of this virus and its variants to create a safer environment for ourselves, our families and our communities,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “The best defense against COVID-19 is getting a vaccine and encouraging everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated too. Wearing a mask and practising physical distancing where possible are public health measures we all must continue to follow.”

To further protect those who face the highest risk from COVID-19 and the Delta variant, the government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health is following the evidence and recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and will begin offering third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to additional groups, such as individuals with moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency, individuals receiving active treatment for significantly immunosuppressive conditions and those with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Locations and timing for third doses will vary by public health unit and high-risk population based on local planning and considerations.

“Getting fully vaccinated is the most important step you can take to protect yourself and others,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “To provide the best protection to some of our more vulnerable populations, we are offering a third dose to additional groups of immunocompromised people who are more likely to have had a less than adequate immune response to the initial two dose COVID-19 vaccine series. I continue to strongly encourage anyone eligible who hasn’t already come forward to get their COVID-19 shot, to do so today to do their part to help keep themselves, their loved ones and our communities safe.”

Quick Facts
  • Those who have questions about COVID-19 vaccines and would like to speak to an experienced agent or health specialist are encouraged to call the Provincial Vaccine Confidence Line that can be accessed through the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre: 1-833-943-3900 (TTY for people who are deaf, hearing-impaired or speech-impaired: 1-866-797-0007). The Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre is available in more than 300 languages, seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Ontarians who received their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine out of province should contact their local public health unit to have their information verified and recorded so they can receive an Ontario receipt that they can access or print from the provincial booking portal.
  • The province will continue to work with the federal government to ensure the integration and interoperability with a national vaccine passport for the purposes of international travel.
  • On July 16, 2021, the province moved into Step Three of the Roadmap to Reopen. Face coverings in indoor public settings and physical distancing requirements remain in place throughout Step Three.
  • COVID-19 vaccines are currently available at over 3,150 locations across the province, including more than 2,500 pharmacies and more than 1,000 currently operational mass immunization clinics, hospitals, primary care settings and pop up and mobile clinics.
  • A key component of Ontario’s last mile strategy is getting vaccines to people, wherever they are located. If you need your first or second shot, keep an eye out for the GO-VAXX mobile clinics.
  • Anyone with symptoms or who is a known close contact of someone with COVID-19, and other groups that meet provincial testing eligibility criteria, should make an appointment at an assessment centre, participating pharmacy or specimen collection centre. Please visit Ontario.ca/covidtest to find a testing location and for eligibility criteria to be tested.
Additional Resources

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July 09, 2021

Ontario Moving to Step Three of Roadmap to Reopen on July 16

Continuing Improvements in Key Indicators Allowing Province to Safely Expand Indoor Settings and Capacity Limits

TORONTO — With key public health and health care indicators continuing to improve and the provincewide vaccination rate surpassing the targets outlined in the province’s Roadmap to Reopen, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health the Ontario government is moving the province into Step Three of the Roadmap to Reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 16, 2021.

“Thanks to the tireless efforts of our frontline heroes, and the ongoing commitment of Ontarians to get vaccinated, we have surpassed the targets we set in order to enter Step Three of our Roadmap,” said Premier Doug Ford. “While this is welcome news for everyone who wants a return to normal, we will not slow down our efforts to fully vaccinate everyone who wants to be and put this pandemic behind us once and for all.”

In order to enter Step Three of the Roadmap, Ontario needed to have vaccinated 70 to 80 per cent of individuals 18 years of age or older with one dose and 25 per cent with two doses for at least two weeks, ensuring a stronger level of protection against COVID-19. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Ontario’s health care partners, as of July 8, 2021, over 77 per cent of the population in Ontario ages 12 and over have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and over 50 per cent have received their second dose. More than 16.6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered provincewide.

The province also needed to see continued improvement in other key public health and health care indicators, including hospitalizations, ICU occupancy and the weekly cases incidence rates. After entering Step Two, during the period of June 29 to July 5, 2021, the provincial case rate decreased by 23.3 per cent. As of July 8, the number of patients with COVID-19 in ICUs is 202, including three patients from Manitoba, as compared to 286 two weeks ago. The province expects these positive trends to continue over the coming days before entering Step Three.

“Ontario has continued to see improvements in key health indicators, allowing the province to move to Step Three of the Roadmap and safely resume more of the activities we’ve missed,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “While this is exciting news, we most still remain vigilant and continue to follow the public health measure we know work and keep us safe. Vaccines remain our ticket out of the pandemic so if you haven’t booked your appointment yet, please do so today.”

Step Three of the Roadmap focuses on the resumption of additional indoor services with larger numbers of people and restrictions in place. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 100 people with limited exceptions;
  • Indoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 25 people;
  • Indoor religious services, rites or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services permitted with physical distancing;
  • Indoor dining permitted with no limits on the number of patrons per table with physical distancing and other restrictions still in effect;
  • Indoor sports and recreational fitness facilities to open subject to a maximum 50 per cent capacity of the indoor space. Capacity for indoor spectators is 50 per cent of the usual seating capacity or 1,000 people, whichever is less. Capacity for outdoor spectators is 75 per cent of the usual seating capacity or 15,000 people, whichever is less;
  • Indoor meeting and event spaces permitted to operate with physical distancing and other restrictions still in effect and capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity or 1,000 people, (whichever is less);
  • Essential and non-essential retail with with capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres;
  • Personal care services, including services requiring the removal of a face covering, with capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres;
  • Museums, galleries, historic sites, aquariums, zoos, landmarks, botanical gardens, science centres, casinos/bingo halls, amusement parks, fairs and rural exhibitions, festivals, with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors;
  • Concert venues, cinemas, and theatres permitted to operate at:
    • up to 50 per cent capacity indoors or a maximum limit of 1,000 people for seated events (whichever is less)
    • up to 75 per cent capacity outdoors or a maximum limit of 5,000 people for unseated events (whichever is less); and up to 75 per cent capacity outdoors or a maximum of 15,000 people for events with fixed seating (whichever is less).
  • Real estate open houses with capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres; and
  • Indoor food or drink establishments where dance facilities are provided, including nightclubs and restobars, permitted up to 25 per cent capacity or up to a maximum limit of 250 people (whichever is less).

Face coverings in indoor public settings and physical distancing requirements remain in place throughout Step Three. This is in alignment with the advice on personal public health measures issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada, while also accounting for Ontario specific information and requirements. Face coverings will also be required in some outdoor public settings as well.

Please view the regulation for the full list of public health and workplace safety measures that need to be followed.

“Thanks to the continued efforts of Ontarians adhering to public health measures and advice, as well as going out to get vaccinated, we have seen most key health indicators continue to improve,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “However, the pandemic is not over and we must all remain vigilant and continue following the measures and advice in place, as the Delta variant continues to pose a threat to public health.”

The province will remain in Step Three of the Roadmap for at least 21 days and until 80 per cent of the eligible population aged 12 and over has received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 75 per cent have received their second, with no public health unit having less than 70 per cent of their population fully vaccinated. Other key public health and health care indicators must also continue to remain stable. Upon meeting these thresholds, the vast majority of public health and workplace safety measures, including capacity limits for indoor and outdoor settings and limits for social gatherings, will be lifted. Only a small number of measures will remain in place, including the requirement for passive screening, such as posting a sign, and businesses requiring a safety plan.

Ontario’s epidemiological situation is distinct from other jurisdictions and the Delta variant is the dominant strain in Ontario, which is not the case with some other provinces. As a result, on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, face coverings will also continue to be required for indoor public settings. The Chief Medical Officer of Health will continue to evaluate this need on an ongoing basis.            

Quick Facts
  • On June 30, 2021, the province moved into Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen, based on the provincewide vaccination rate and continued improvements in key public health and health system indicators.
  • The Ontario government has released the Roadmap to Reopen, a three-step plan to reopen the province and ease public health measures based on the provincewide vaccination rate and improvements in key public health and health care indicators.
  • With a majority of Ontario adults having received their first dose of the vaccine, providing a strong level of protection from COVID-19, the province is accelerating eligibility to book a second dose appointment, including for children and youth aged 12 to 17.
Additional Resources

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June 24, 2021

Ontario Moving to Step Two of Roadmap to Reopen on June 30

Continuing Improvements in Key Indicators Allowing Province to Ease Additional Public Health Measures

TORONTO — With key public health and health care indicators continuing to improve, the provincewide vaccination rate now surpassing the targets outlined in the province’s Roadmap to Reopen, and on the recommendation of the the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government is moving the province into Step Two of its Roadmap to Reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, June 30, 2021.

“Because of the tireless work of our health care heroes, and the record setting success of our vaccine rollout, we are able to move into Step Two ahead of schedule on June 30 with the support of our public health experts” said Premier Doug Ford. “We are proceeding safely with the re-opening of our province and will continue to work around the clock until the job is done.”

In order to enter Step Two of the Roadmap, Ontario needed to have vaccinated 70 per cent of adults with one dose and 20 per cent with two doses for at least two weeks, ensuring a strong level of protection against COVID-19.
 Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Ontario’s health care partners, as of June 23, 2021, over 76 per cent of the population in Ontario ages 18 and over have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and over 29 per cent have received their second dose. More than 13.3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered provincewide.

Before entering Step Two, the province also needed to see continued improvement in key public health and health care indicators, including hospitalizations, ICU occupancy and the weekly cases incidence rates. After entering Step One, during the period of June 11 to 17, 2021, the provincial case rate decreased by 24.6 per cent. As of June 22, the number of patients with COVID-19 in ICUs is 305, including 10 patients from Manitoba, as compared to 450 two weeks ago. The province expects these positive trends to continue over the coming days before entering Step Two.

“Due to a continued improvement in key indicators, Ontario is ready to enter Step Two of our Roadmap, allowing us to safely and gradually ease public health measures while continuing to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Thank you to the Ontarians who rolled up their sleeves to help us reach this exciting milestone. Every dose administered brings us one step closer to the things we’ve missed, so please sign up to receive the vaccine when it’s your turn.”

Step Two of the Roadmap focuses on the resumption of more outdoor activities and limited indoor services with small numbers of people where face coverings are worn, with other restrictions in place. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 25 people;
  • Indoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 5 people;
  • Essential and other select retail permitted at 50 per cent capacity;
  • Non-essential retail permitted at 25 per cent capacity;
  • Personal care services where face coverings can be worn at all times, and at 25 per cent capacity and other restrictions;
  • Outdoor dining with up to 6 people per table, with exceptions for larger households and other restrictions;
  • Indoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services permitted at up to 25 per cent capacity of the particular room;
  • Outdoor fitness classes limited to the number of people who can maintain 3 metres of physical distance;
  • Outdoor sports without contact or modified to avoid contact, with no specified limit on number of people or teams participating, with restrictions;
  • Overnight camps for children operating in a manner consistent with the safety guidelines produced by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health;
  • Outdoor sport facilities with spectators permitted at 25 per cent capacity;
  • Outdoor concert venues, theatres and cinemas, with spectators permitted at 25 per cent capacity;
  • Outdoor horse racing and motor speedways, with spectators permitted at 25 per cent capacity;
  • Outdoor fairs, rural exhibitions, festivals, permitted at 25 per cent capacity and with other restrictions.

Please view the regulation for the full list of public health and workplace safety measures that need to be followed.

While the province has surpassed Step Three vaccination targets, Ontario may remain in Step Two for a period of approximately 21 days to allow the most recent vaccinations to reach their full effectiveness and to evaluate any impacts of moving to Step Two on key public health and health care indicators. When it is determined to be safe, the province will promptly move to Step Three of the Roadmap to Reopen.

“Due to the continued commitment of Ontarians adhering to public health measures and going out to get vaccinated, we have seen our key health indicators continue to improve across the province,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “While we can now begin preparing to ease public health measures under the Roadmap, the fight against COVID-19 is not over and we must continue adhering to the public health advice and measures currently in place to maintain this great progress.”    
         

Quick Facts
  • Based on the latest modelling data, COVID-19 case, positivity and hospitalization rates are continuing to decline and ICU occupancy is shrinking thanks to the efforts of Ontarians in following public health measures and rolling up their sleeves to get vaccinated
  • On June 11, 2021, the province moved to Step One of the Roadmap to Reopen, based on the provincewide vaccination rate and improvements in key public health and health system indicators.
  • The Ontario government has released the Roadmap to Reopen, a three-step plan to reopen the province and ease public health measures based on the provincewide vaccination rate and improvements in key public health and health care indicators.
  • With a majority of Ontario adults having received their first dose of the vaccine, providing a strong level of protection from COVID-19, the province is accelerating eligibility to book a second dose appointment.        
 
Additional Resources
  • Visit Ontario’s COVID-19 communications resources web page for resources in multiple languages to help local communication efforts
  • Visit Ontario’s website to find out if you are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at this time
  • For up-to-date information on the province’s vaccine rollout and instructions on how to book an appointment, visit Ontario’s vaccine webpage
  • Visit Ontario’s COVID-19 information website to learn more about how the province continues to protect the people of Ontario from the virus
  • For public inquiries call ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1-866-532-3161    

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May 20, 2021

Ontario Releases Three-Step Roadmap to Safely Reopen the Province

Province Safely Reopening Outdoor Recreational Amenities Prior to End of Stay-at-Home Order

TORONTO — The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has released its Roadmap to Reopen, a three-step plan to safely and cautiously reopen the province and gradually lift public health measures based on the provincewide vaccination rate and improvements in key public health and health care indicators. In response to recent improvements to these indicators, Ontario will allow more outdoor recreational amenities to reopen, with restrictions in place, effective May 22, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.

“As a result of the strict public health measures we introduced to stop the spread of COVID-19 variants, we are seeing a steady improvement in our situation as ICU and hospital numbers begin to stabilize,” said Premier Doug Ford. “While we must remain conscious of the continued threat the virus poses, with millions of Ontarians having received at least their first dose of vaccine we can now begin the process of a slow and cautious re-opening of the province in full consultation with our public health professionals.”

Roadmap to Reopen outlines three steps to easing public health measures, guided by the following principles:

  • Step One: An initial focus on resuming outdoor activities with smaller crowds where the risk of transmission is lower, and permitting retail with restrictions. This includes allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people, outdoor dining with up to four people per table and non-essential retail at 15 per cent capacity.
  • Step Two: Further expanding outdoor activities and resuming limited indoor services with small numbers of people where face coverings are worn. This includes outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people, outdoor sports and leagues, overnight camps, personal care services where face coverings can be worn and with capacity limits, as well as indoor religious services, rites or ceremony gatherings at 15 per cent capacity.
  • Step Three: Expanding access to indoor settings, with restrictions, including where there are larger numbers of people and where face coverings can’t always be worn. This includes indoor sports and recreational fitness; indoor dining, museums, art galleries and libraries, and casinos and bingo halls, with capacity limits.

The province will remain in each step for at least 21 days to evaluate any impacts on key public health and health system indicators. If at the end of the 21 days, the following vaccination thresholds have been met, along with positive trends in other key public health and health system indicators, then the province will move to the next step:

  • Step 1: 60 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose.
  • Step 2: 70 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose and 20 per cent vaccinated with two doses.
  • Step 3: 70 to 80 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose and 25 per cent vaccinated with two doses.

Based on current trends in key health indicators, including the provincial vaccination rate, the government expects to enter Step One of the Roadmap the week of June 14, 2021. The province will confirm closer to the expected start of Step One.

“While we know that now is not yet the moment to reopen, Ontarians deserve to know the path forward on what we will carefully reopen and when, starting with the settings we know are safest,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Brighter days are ahead and we believe this Roadmap represents a path out of the pandemic and will encourage Ontarians to get vaccinated and to continue following public health advice.”

The provincewide emergency brake restrictions remain in effect while the province assesses when it will be moving to Step One of the roadmap with the Stay at Home order expiring on June 2, 2021. During this time, the government will continue to work with stakeholders on reopening plans to ensure full awareness of when and how they can begin to safely reopen.

Due to the continuing success of Ontario’s vaccine rollout and the collective efforts of Ontarians in following public health and workplace safety measures to date, effective May 22, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. the province will reopen outdoor recreational amenities with restrictions in place, such as the need to maintain physical distancing. These amenities include but are not limited to golf courses and driving ranges, soccer and other sports fields, tennis and basketball courts, splash and spray pads and skate parks. No outdoor sports or recreational classes are permitted. Outdoor limits for social gatherings and organized public events will be expanded to five people, which will allow these amenities to be used for up to five people, including with members of different households. All other public health and workplace safety measures under the provincewide emergency brake will remain in effect.

At this time, publicly funded and private elementary and secondary schools in the province will continue to operate under teacher-led remote learning. Data will be assessed on an ongoing basis and medical experts, including the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and other health officials will be consulted to determine if it may be safe to resume in-person learning.

“Due to the stringent efforts of Ontarians following public health and workplace safety measures, we have reached the point where we can begin preparing to exit the provincewide emergency brake and lift the Stay-at-Home order,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “We must remain vigilant however, as the fight against COVID-19 is not over and our case counts, ICU capacity and hospitalizations are still concerning. It remains critical that all Ontarians continue to follow all public health and workplace safety measures currently in place to help further reduce transmission and save lives.”

The government will continue to work with the Public Health Measures Table, Public Health Ontario, and other public health and scientific experts to determine public health guidance for Ontarians to follow, including protocols for masking and outdoor/indoor gatherings, after being fully vaccinated.

Quick Facts
  • Based on the latest modelling data COVID-19 case, positivity and hospitalization rates are decreasing, and control of the pandemic is improving. Maintaining the current rate of vaccination and public health and workplace safety measures will help to ensure Ontario starts to safely and gradually reopen.
  • Ontario has administered first doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to over 58.5 per cent of Ontarians aged 18 and over. Over two million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario since the start of May, and the province remains on track to have administered first doses to 65 per cent of Ontarians aged 18 and over by the end of May.
  • The government has extended the provincewide Stay-at-Home Order until June 2, 2021, and has maintained all public health and workplace safety measures under the provincewide emergency brake to help to stop the rapid transmission of COVID-19 variants in communities, protect hospital capacity and save lives.
  • The Stay-at-Home order currently in effect requires everyone to remain at home except for specified purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely.
  • If passed by the Legislature, powers under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA) will be extended to December 1, 2021 to ensure public health measures currently in place can be extended and adjusted as necessary, to deal with the impacts of COVID-19 and support a gradual re-opening of the province. There are currently 29 orders in effect under the ROA. Orders can be extended for up to 30 days at a time under the ROA, and the government must report on all order extensions to the Select Committee on Emergency Management Oversight.
  • As of 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 18, 2021, individuals aged 18 and over in 2021 across Ontario are eligible to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment through the provincial booking system and call centre, or directly through public health units that use their own booking system.
 
Additional Resources

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May 13, 2021

Ontario Extending Stay-at-Home Order Until June 2

Province Outlines Plans to Make Pfizer Vaccine Available to Youth Aged 12 to 17

TORONTO — With the new, more contagious variants continuing to pose significant risks, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has extended the Stay-at-Home Order (O. Reg. 265/21) until at least June 2, 2021. All public health and workplace safety measures under the provincewide emergency brake will also remain in effect. During this time, the government will prepare to administer the Pfizer vaccine to youth between the ages of 12 and 17, beginning the week May 31, 2021, as the province also finalizes plans to gradually and safely re-open the province.

“While we are seeing positive trends as a result of the public health measures put in place, we cannot afford to let up yet,” said Premier Ford. “We must stay vigilant to ensure our ICU numbers stay down and our hospital capacity is protected. If we stay the course for the next two weeks, and continue vaccinating record number of Ontarians every day, we can begin looking forward to July and August and having the summer that everyone deserves.”

Thanks to the collective efforts of Ontarians in following public health and workplace safety measures, the province continues to make considerable progress in the fight to control the third wave of COVID-19. This past week (May 2 to 8), the provincial cases rate decreased by 14.8 per cent, with the positivity rate also decreasing to 7.7 per cent compared to 8.6 per cent the previous week. From May 5 to 12, the number of patients with COVID-related critical illness in intensive care has decreased from 877 to 776.

Despite improvements, key indicators remain high and more time is required before the province can safely lift the Stay-at-Home Order. From May 3 to 9, the provincial cases rate remained very high at 134.9 cases per 100,000 people, and per cent positivity was above the high alert threshold of 2.5 per cent. Hospitalization and ICU admissions also remain too high and well above the peak of wave two.

Based on this data, the government has extended the provincewide Stay-at-Home Order that is set to expire on May 19 until at least June 2, 2021. The impacts of these measures will continue to be evaluated over the coming weeks, with consideration being made to the reopening of outdoor recreational amenities on June 2, subject to current trends continuing.

“While the latest data shows that public health measures are having an impact, the situation in our hospitals remains precarious and variants continue to pose a significant risk,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Experience from other jurisdictions shows that driving transmission to very low levels is needed in order to end the third wave. We must stay the course as we continue to quickly vaccinate more Ontarians, including our children and youth.”

In addition, all publicly funded and private elementary and secondary schools in the province will continue to operate under teacher-led remote learning. Data is to be assessed on an ongoing basis and medical experts, including the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and other health officials will be consulted to determine if it may be safe to resume in-person learning.

Beginning the week of May 31, youth in Ontario between 12 and 17 years of age and their family members who have not received a vaccine will be eligible to book an appointment to receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, including at special dedicated youth and family clinics throughout the weeks of June 14 and 21.

“Expanding vaccines to youth 12 and up will bring us one step closer to normalcy for our students,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “We are focused on delivering a safe, stable, and well-resourced learning experience with an additional $1.6-billion in resources to protect students and school communities in the 2021-22 school year.”

The province will work with public health units to offer both doses of vaccine to youth aged 12 to 17 by the end of August, in collaboration with school boards and other partners. The rollout will be informed by the work of the Children’s COVID-19 Vaccine Table and will provide access to multiple channels to support vaccinating this group, including mass vaccination clinics, community or school pop-ups, and pharmacies.

“The spread of COVID-19 continues to pose a significant threat to our health care system and the well-being of Ontarians,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “While we have made great strides, extending the Stay-at-Home order is essential to protect our communities, reduce the spread of the virus and save lives.”

“Despite the progress we have made in recent weeks in our fight against this virus, we all must remain vigilant, as we are not yet at the point where we can safely exit the Stay-at-Home Order, as our health system remains under significant strain,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “By continuing to strictly follow all measures, we can further reduce transmission of the virus, safeguard hospital and public health capacity, and save lives.”
     

Quick Facts
  • Ontario has administered first doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to over 50 per cent of Ontarians aged 18 and over. Over one million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario since the start of May, and the province remains on track to have administered first doses to 65 per cent of Ontarians aged 18 and over by the end of May.
  • On May 5, 2021, Health Canada authorized the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in children 12 to 15 years of age, marking the first COVID-19 vaccine authorized in Canada for use in this age group.
  • The Stay-at-Home order currently in effect requires everyone to remain at home except for specified purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely.
  • On April 3, 2021, the government implemented a provincewide emergency brake, putting in place time-limited public health and workplace safety measures to help to stop the rapid transmission of COVID-19 variants in communities, protect hospital capacity and save lives.
  • Emergency orders currently in force under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act have been extended until June 2, 2021, as the province continues to deal with the impacts of COVID-19. Orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, with the exception of O.Reg 129/20 (Signatures in Wills and Powers of Attorney), have been extended until June 19, 2021.
  • Under the ROA, orders can be extended for up to 30 days at a time, and the government must report on all order extensions to the Select Committee on Emergency Management Oversight.
  • The ROA requires the Premier to table a report on any amendments or extensions of any orders within 120 days after the first anniversary of the ROA coming into force.
  • Last week, the Ontario government announced it is providing more than $2 billion in new supports to advance and protect public education for the 2021-22 school year. The support includes more than $1.6 billion in resources to respond to COVID-19, with an $85.5 million commitment to support learning recovery and renewal in response to the ongoing pandemic in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years.    
 
Additional Resources

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April 7, 2021

Ontario Enacts Provincial Emergency and Stay-at-Home Order

Additional measures needed to protect health system capacity and save lives during third wave of COVID-19

TORONTO — The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is immediately declaring a third provincial emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA). These measures are being taken in response to the rapid increase in COVID-19 transmission, the threat on the province's hospital system capacity, and the increasing risks posed to the public by COVID-19 variants.

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, and Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health.

"The COVID-19 situation is at a critical stage and we must act quickly and decisively to stay ahead of these deadly new variants," said Premier Ford. "By imposing these strict new measures we will keep people safe while allowing our vaccination program to reach more people, starting with our high risk population and identified hot spots. Although this is difficult, I urge everyone to follow these public health measures and together we will defeat this deadly virus."

Case rates, hospitalizations, and ICU occupancy are increasing rapidly, threatening to overwhelm the health care system. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the province have increased by 28.2 per cent between the period of March 28 and April 5, 2021. In addition, between March 28 and April 5, 2021, Ontario has seen the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care escalate by 25 per cent. While every action possible is being taken to increase capacity and continue daily surgeries and procedures, the province is reaching a tipping point.

Effective Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a province-wide Stay-at-Home order requiring everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise , or for work that cannot be done remotely. As Ontario's health care capacity is threatened, the Stay-at-Home order, and other new and existing public health and workplace safety measures will work to preserve public health system capacity, safeguard vulnerable populations, allow for progress to be made with vaccinations and save lives.

Retail

In addition, the province is also strengthening public health and workplace safety measures for non-essential retail under the provincewide emergency brake. Measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Limiting the majority of non-essential retailers to only operate for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., with delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6:00 am and 9:00 pm, and other restrictions;
  • Restricting access to shopping malls to limited specified purposes, including access for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, with one single designated location inside the shopping mall, and any number of designated locations outside the shopping mall, along with other restrictions;
  • Restricting discount and big box stores in-person retail sales to grocery items, pet care supplies, household cleaning supplies, pharmaceutical items, health care items, and personal care items only;
  • Permitting the following stores to operate for in-person retail by appointment only and subject to a 25 per cent capacity limit and restricting allowable hours of operation to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. with the delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.:
    • Safety supply stores;
    • Businesses that primarily sell, rent or repair assistive devices, aids or supplies, mobility devices, aids or supplies or medical devices, aids or supplies;
    • Rental and leasing services including automobile, commercial and light industrial machinery and equipment rental;
    • Optical stores that sell prescription eyewear to the public;
    • Businesses that sell motor vehicles, boats and other watercraft;
    • Vehicle and equipment repair and essential maintenance and vehicle and equipment rental services; and
    • Retail stores operated by a telecommunications provider or service, which may only permit members of the public to enter the premises to purchase a cellphone or for repairs or technical support.
  • Permitting outdoor garden centres and plant nurseries, and indoor greenhouses that engage in sales to the public, to operate with a 25 per cent capacity limit and a restriction on hours of operation to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

These additional and strengthened public health and workplace safety measures will be in effect as of Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.

Education

Keeping schools and child care open is critical to the mental health and well-being of Ontario children and youth. Schools and child care will remain open for in-person care and learning in public health regions where it is permitted, with strict safety measures in place.

In addition, beginning next week, education workers who provide direct support to students with special education needs across the province, and all education workers in select hot spot areas, will be eligible to register for vaccination. Vaccinations will commence during the April break starting with priority neighborhoods in Toronto and Peel, then rolling out to priority neighborhoods in other hot spot regions, including York, Ottawa, Hamilton, Halton and Durham. This will be followed by a rollout across the province as supply allows.

"While our government took decisive action by implementing the provincewide emergency brake, more needs to be done to protect against the threats to our health system resources and the continued health and safety of individuals and families across the province," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "By further strengthening public health and workplace safety measures, we can work to reduce transmission of the virus while we work to rollout Phase 2 of our vaccine distribution plan, and put more needles in the arms of Ontarians."

"The rapid and increasing spread of COVID-19 and the variants of concern pose significant threats to our health care system and the well-being of Ontarians, requiring immediate and decisive action," said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. "The declaration of a third provincial emergency is necessary to provide the government with the tools needed to help protect the public, reduce the spread of the virus and save lives."

Vaccinations

As part of Phase Two of its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, people living in regions with the highest rates of transmission will be prioritized to receive a vaccine, starting with the most at-risk in the Peel and Toronto public health regions. This initiative will be expanded to additional "hot spot" regions based on established patterns of transmission, severe illness, and mortality.

To support this expanded vaccination effort, mobile teams are being organized to administer vaccines in high-risk congregate settings, residential buildings, faith-based locations, and locations occupied by large employers in hot spot neighbourhoods to individuals aged 18 or over. Pop-up clinics will also be set-up in highly impacted neighborhoods, including at faith-based locations and community centres in those hot spots, in collaboration with public health units and community organizations within those communities. The province will provide additional resources to support these mobile and pop-up clinics in the hardest-hit neighbourhoods.

The government will also extend booking for COVID-19 vaccination appointments to more age groups through its provincial booking system, for public health regions with highly impacted neighbourhoods, on Friday, April 9, 2021. Booking eligibility will be extended to include individuals aged 50 and over for COVID-19 vaccination appointments at mass immunization clinics in high-risk areas as identified by postal code, using the provincial booking system.

Workplace Inspections

Health and safety inspectors and provincial offenses officers will increase inspections and enforcement at essential businesses in regional hot zones to continue protecting essential workers while on the job. There have been 19,500 COVID-related workplace inspections and investigations across the province since the beginning of 2021. During those visits, over 450 COVID-19 related tickets have been issued and OHS inspectors have issued over 14,446 OHS orders and stopped unsafe work related to COVID-19 a total of 24 times.

Rapid Testing

Rapid testing continues to be deployed in workplaces for asymptomatic staff in key sectors such as manufacturing, warehousing, supply chain, mining, construction and food processing. Approximately 5.4 million rapid antigen tests have been sent to over 1,150 workplaces, including 100 essential industry sites, under the Provincial Antigen Screening Program. To encourage the use of these tests under the program, additional outreach will occur to employers in regions with highest rates of transmission to increase access to testing, and the process for enrollment in the screening program will be streamlined to allow for quick access to these supports.

"As we continue to see COVID-19 variants of concern drive this third wave of COVID-19, it is evident stronger public health and workplace measures are needed to help interrupt the spread of the virus," said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. "By all of us staying at home, while still taking some time to enjoy the outdoors with the people we live with in our local neighbourhoods and maintaining two metres physical distance from others, we can reduce our mobility, minimize transmission, protect our loved ones and our communities, safeguard health system capacity, and save lives."

Quick Facts
  • Over the past week, the province’s positivity rate is 5.1 per cent, well above the high-alert threshold of 2.5 per cent, and as of April 6, 2021, there has been a total of 2,483 cases with one of the three variants of concern (VoC). The percent of cases in the last week that tested positive for a mutation or VOC was 63.1 per cent.
  • On Saturday April 3, 2021, in response to an alarming surge in case numbers and COVID-19 hospitalizations across the province and in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the government imposed a provincewide emergency brake, implementing additional time-limited public health and workplace safety measures, including encouraging remote work in all industries to the greatest extent possible and the closure of additional workplaces, further capacity limits on some essential businesses which are able to remain open, and strengthened advice on limiting trips outside of the home for essential reasons.
  • On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, all Ontarians are asked to limit trips outside the home to necessities such as food, medication, medical appointments, supporting vulnerable community members, or exercising outdoors with members of their household in our their communities. Individuals should remain in their local communities and avoid all non-essential travel – even within the province – and to stay home when ill even with mild symptoms. Employers in all industries should make every effort to allow employees to work from home.
  • To ensure that every person who requires care in a hospital can access a bed, the government has invested more than $5.1 billion to support hospitals since the start of the pandemic, creating more than 3,100 additional hospital beds and 500 critical care and high intensity medicine beds. This includes $1.8 billion in 2021–22 to continue providing care for COVID-19 patients, addressing surgical backlogs and keeping pace with patient needs through its Ontario's Action Plan: Protecting People's Health and Our Economy.
  • The Ontario government continues to implement its High Priority Communities Strategy to provide targeted supports to communities hardest hit by COVID-19. In these communities 1,000 Community Ambassadors have been mobilized, 30 community testing sites have been opened and nearly 36,000 PPE kits have been distributed to community members.
  • Get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms, or if you have been advised of exposure by your local public health unit or through the COVID Alert App. Visit Ontario.ca/covidtest to find the nearest testing location.
Additional Resources

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April 1, 2021

Ontario Implements Provincial Emergency Brake

All 34 Public Health Unit Regions to Move into Shutdown

TORONTO —The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is imposing a provincewide emergency brake as a result of an alarming surge  in case numbers and COVID-19 hospitalizations across the province. The provincewide emergency brake will be effective Saturday, April 3, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. and the government intends to keep this in place for at least four weeks.

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Dr. Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown, Co-Chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.

"We are facing a serious situation and drastic measures are required to contain the rapid spread of the virus, especially the new variants of concern," said Premier Ford. "I know pulling the emergency brake will be difficult on many people across the province, but we must try and prevent more people from getting infected and overwhelming our hospitals. Our vaccine rollout is steadily increasing, and I encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. That is our best protection against this deadly virus."

Ontario's key indicators and latest modelling show that additional measures must be taken. From March 26 to 28, 2021, provincial case rates have increased by 7.7 per cent to 101.1 cases per 100,000 people. Current COVID-19 related ICU admissions are already over the peak of wave two and hospitals in regional hotspots will need to further ramp down scheduled surgeries. COVID-19 related ICU admissions are projected to exceed 650 beds in a few weeks. These increases are being driven by COVID-19 variants, which are transmitted easily and result in a higher risk of death and hospitalization, including in younger populations.

The provincewide emergency brake would put in place time-limited public health and workplace safety measures to help to stop the rapid transmission of COVID-19 variants in communities, protect hospital capacity and save lives. Measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Prohibiting indoor organized public events and social gatherings and limiting the capacity for outdoor organized public events or social gatherings to a 5-person maximum, except for gatherings with members of the same household (the people you live with) or gatherings of members of one household and one other person from another household who lives alone.
  • Restricting in-person shopping in all retail settings, including a 50 per cent capacity limit for supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers' markets, other stores that primarily sell food and pharmacies, and 25 per cent for all other retail including big box stores, along with other public health and workplace safety measures;
  • Prohibiting personal care services;
  • Prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments will be permitted to operate by take-out, drive-through, and delivery only;
  • Prohibiting the use of facilities for indoor or outdoor sports and recreational fitness (e.g., gyms) with very limited exceptions;
  • Requiring day camps to close; and,
  • Limiting capacity at weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies to 15 per cent occupancy per room indoors, and to the number of individuals that can maintain two metres of physical distance outdoors. This does not include social gatherings associated with these services such as receptions, which are not permitted indoors and are limited to five people outdoors.

On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, all Ontarians are asked to limit trips outside the home to necessities such as food, medication, medical appointments, supporting vulnerable community members, or exercising outdoors with members of their household. Employers in all industries should make every effort to allow employees to work from home.

"Ontario, like many other provinces and jurisdictions around the world, is in the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and immediate action is required to help turn the tide," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "Implementing a provincewide emergency brake was not an easy decision to make and is not one we take lightly. As we continue to vaccinate more Ontarians, the end is in sight, but right now these necessary measures will help to stop the spread of variants in our communities, protect capacity in our health care system, and save lives."

The current COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open, will be paused when the provincewide emergency brake comes into effect. The impacts of these time-limited measures will be evaluated throughout the next four weeks to determine if it is safe to lift any restrictions or if they need to be extended. With more than $1.6 billion invested to protect against COVID-19, schools remain safe for students and staff. Keeping schools open is critical to the mental health and well-being of Ontario youth. During the emergency shutdown, schools will remain open for in-person learning with strict safety measures in place. The spring break will continue as planned for the week of April 12. In order to support working families, child care will remain open during the shutdown. Child care settings will continue to adhere to stringent health and safety measures so that they remain safe places for children and staff.

"In the last few weeks a significant increase in COVID-19 cases and variants of concern has been observed across Ontario which has put considerable strain on our public health and health care systems," said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. "Implementing a provincewide shutdown is needed to bring the third wave of this pandemic under control so that we can save lives, keep our education system open and allow our vaccination program to take hold."

Quick Facts
  • Based on the latest modelling data, variants of concern are continuing to grip the province and drive this third wave of the pandemic. Case rates are rising, younger Ontarians are becoming sicker and ICU capacity is at risk of becoming overwhelmed without stronger public health and workplace safety measures in place.
  • The 2021 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy, brings the government’s total investments to protect the economy to $23.3 billion. This includes an estimated $3.4 billion to support approximately 120,000 small businesses across Ontario via two rounds of the Ontario Small Business Support Grant. Applications for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant have been extended for one week through April 7 and all eligible businesses are encouraged to apply.
  • Additionally, the new Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant will provide an estimated $100 million in one-time payments of $10,000 to $20,000 to eligible small businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector. Businesses required to close or significantly restrict services due to provincial public health measures can continue to apply for property tax and energy cost rebates. Visit Ontario.ca/COVIDsupport for more information on Ontario’s supports for businesses.
  • To ensure that every person who requires care in a hospital can access a bed, the government has invested more than $5.1 billion to support hospitals since the start of the pandemic, creating more than 3,100 additional hospital beds and 500 critical care and high intensity medicine beds. This includes $1.8 billion in 2021–22 to continue providing care for COVID-19 patients, addressing surgical backlogs and keeping pace with patient needs through its Ontario's Action Plan: Protecting People's Health and Our Economy.
  • The province continues to deploy rapid testing in workplaces, including up to 300,000 COVID-19 tests per week for asymptomatic staff in key sectors such as manufacturing, warehousing, supply chain, mining, construction and food processing. More than 4.7 million rapid antigen tests have been sent to over 1,150 workplaces, including 89 essential industry sites, under the Provincial Antigen Screening Program.
  • The Ontario government continues to implement its High Priority Communities Strategy to provide targeted supports to communities hardest hit by COVID-19. In these communities 1,000 Community Ambassadors have been mobilized, 30 community testing sites have been opened and nearly 36,000 PPE kits have been distributed to community members.
  • Get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms, or if you have been advised of exposure by your local public health unit or through the COVID Alert App. Visit Ontario.ca/covidtest to find the nearest testing location.
  • Emergency orders O. Reg. 55/21 (Compliance Orders for Retirement Homes) and O. Reg. 8/21 (Enforcement of COVID-19 Measures) currently in force, under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, have been extended until April 19, 2021, as the province continues to deal with the impacts of COVID-19.
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