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Ontario Announces Provincewide “Emergency Brake” Shutdown

Published on
April 1, 2021

This afternoon, Premier Doug Ford announced a provincewide “emergency brake” effective Saturday, April 3, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. for at least four weeks to try to control the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts. The COVID-19 Response Framework will pause as the emergency brake comes into place.

This third wave is different from previous waves because it is caused primarily by the variants of concern which are transmitted more easily and result in a higher risk of death, hospitalization and ICU admission. In addition, the third wave is affecting a younger population. The most recent modelling data provided by the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table is available here. The situation in Ontario is not unique and is being seen across the country and around the world.

Measures included in the emergency brake:

  • 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.
  • Employers should allow employers to work from home where at all possible.

Of note, the Premier confirmed schools are staying open and that the March Break, rescheduled to April 12-16, will go ahead as planned. Further, all construction remains open without restrictions on worksites.

The Ontario Small Business Support Grant application has been extended through April 7 to allow eligible business to apply. Once businesses have been deemed eligible for the phase one of funding they will automatically receive phase two funding. The second payment is expected to start rolling-out in mid-April.

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The Sussex team will continue to track COVID-19 related restrictions and guidelines closely. Please let us know if you have any questions.

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