AMO Policy Update - New COVID-19 Provincial Emergency Declared, and Updated COVID Modelling (Posted Jan. 12, 2021)
New COVID-19 Provincial Emergency Declared
Second Provincial Emergency Declared to Address the 2nd COVID-19 Wave
Ontario Premier Doug Ford followed the release of new modeling projections (see below) this morning with the declaration of a second provincial emergency for Ontario under s 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA) that will be effective immediately.
This declaration means that the government will now make orders under the EMCPA. This action comes as a measure to help curb the rising COVID-19 cases and deaths across the Province by targeting the reduction in the levels of mobility.
Highlights from today's announcement include:
- As of Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., a stay-at-home order comes into effect requiring everyone in Ontario to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes (i.e., trips to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care, for exercise, or essential work).
- Individuals are now required to wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open. Additionally, a mask is now recommended outdoors when physical distancing of two metres is not possible.
- New enforcement measures are set to allow Provincial offences officers, including Police, Municipal Bylaw officers, and First Nations Constables to issue tickets to individuals, employees, or corporations who do not comply with the stay-at-home order. Additionally, all enforcement personnel now have the authority to close a premise or disperse individuals in contravention of an order.
- The Province has updated the essential business list with a few additional closures, but it remains largely unchanged due to already being in a lockdown setting. This means status quo for municipal construction projects that will continue to remain on the essential business list. For more information, call the "Stop the Spread" business information line.
- The Small Business Support Grant will be accepting applications in the coming days for small businesses who are impacted by the lockdown and meet the criteria to receive this support.
- The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development is launching the "Stay Safe All Day" campaign that focuses workplace inspections in areas of high transmission (i.e., lunch or break rooms).
An emergency declaration pursuant to s. 7.0.1 under Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA) is terminated 14 days after being made and may be extended for up to a further 14 days by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. Thereafter, extensions require approval of the Legislature for additional periods of up to 28 days.
The orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA) remain in effect until January 20, 2021. Under the ROA, orders can be extended for up to 30 days at a time, and the government must continue to report on all order extensions to the Select Committee on Emergency Management Oversight.
Ontario is now in a second provincial emergency due to COVID-19 with a series of orders coming into effect over the next two days. AMO will provide regular updates as more orders of a municipal interest come forward under the EMCPA.
COVID-19 Science Advisory Table Update
The COVID-19 Science Advisory Table updated their modelling given trends with recent population data. Today’s presentation provides compelling data on the people and health care system impacts if these trends continue unchecked.
Their Key Findings include:
- Growth in COVID-19 cases has accelerated and is over 7% on the worst days.
- Over the last 4 weeks, there has been a:
- 72.2% increase in COVID hospitalizations
- 61.2% increase in COVID ICU patients.
- Almost 40% of long-term care homes have active COVID-19 outbreaks. Since January 1st, 198 LTC residents and 2 LTC staff have died of COVID-19. Forecasts suggest more deaths in wave 2 in long-term care than in wave 1.
- COVID-19 ICU occupancy is now over 400 beds. Surgeries are being cancelled and the access to care deficit will continue to increase with real consequences for health.
- Mobility and contacts between people have not decreased with the current restrictions. Survey data show that the majority of Ontarians are helping limit spread by following them. However, case numbers will not decline until more of the population follows their example.
- A new variant of concern of SARS-CoV-2 (B117) (UK variant) could drive much higher case counts, ICU occupancy and mortality if community transmission occurs. The doubling time for cases could drop by more than 2/3. This new variant is now in Ontario.
- Without significant reductions in contacts, the health system will be overwhelmed, and mortality will exceed the first wave totals before a vaccine has time to take effect.